My chum Tim and I watch a film every week, taking it in turns to pick. The only catch? Each film has to be linked to the previous one by a shared actor. We’re on the hunt for classics we’ve missed, hidden gems and films to reappraise now we’re, uh, getting older.
We watched Sneakers. There was sneaking.
There’s almost a dogged resignedness hitting us now. We’re 6 films into our Redford season, and have tackled 11 in CRFC in total. There are still more Redford films we want to watch, but the fatigue is starting to set in. Fatigue and the niggling thought that actually… we don’t like Redford that much. Don’t get me wrong, he’s in some very good films but is Redford what’s good about them? I’m not certain it always is. So bearing that in mind I chose a film with no-one in but Redford – All Is Lost
All Is Lost and me
I meant to see this at the cinema. It feels to me like it came out last year, but somehow it’s almost 5 years old already… Anyway, all I know is that it is Redford, alone, on a boat. And things don’t go well. And it’s proper “alone on a boat”, not with a few supporting actors turning up at the beginning and end. 100% Redford. And I seem to remember it being very favourably reviewed at the time, so I had some hopes. Would they be dashed on the rocks, or will All Is Lost sail into the top tier? Let’s find out…
All Is Lost (2013): After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face. 6.9 stars.
I’ve been convinced for a little while that if you really boil storytelling down to a very basic concept you’ll still be able to get something engaging. All I think you need is a character overcoming obstacles. There’s a lot of stuff you can (and probably should) add on top, but I’m pretty convinced that an audience will root for a character if we see them being smart or plucky enough to overcome some obstacles. Particularly where those obstacles are big obvious things like the sea trying to kill you.
So this film was a bit of a disappointment. On the surface, it is purely a character overcoming obstacles. There are some hints of backstory, but not really much. There’s no goal other than survival. There is simply a man on an increasingly rickety boat and a hostile sea. And yet…
Perhaps it’s that the obstacles were too big, the overcoming almost always being a putting-off rather than an actual overcoming? Perhaps it was that Tim and I came up with a series of brilliant inventions that would have saved the day that surely any sailor would always carry on board… and then it turned out they do all actually exist and, indeed, sailors do all carry them. Just not this ‘resourceful’ one.
Perhaps I’m just not fussed by boats?
Perhaps I’m wrong and we do need something more than just character and obstacles being overcome?
I prayed for the ocean to swallow this foolish man up… SPOILER COMING…
When finally he sank into the briny depths I rejoiced. Until he was rescued.
Well, the fatigue may have set in but as there were no other actors in All is Lost it looks like we’ve got at least one more Redford film to go!