Movie Review: “All is Lost” – The “Gravity” of the Sea

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel December 10, 2013

redford - all is lost

If you have ever had one of those days where things just don’t seem to be going right, well, I can guarantee you’ve never experienced it like Robert Redford in “All is Lost”. He’s a man who, while sailing in his yacht, unexpectedly crashes into a shipping container that fell off of a larger boat. He then has to deal with the flooding of his boat, the weather, and other obstacles as he tries to survive.

Our Man Redford

Robert Redford has not let his age slow him down one bit. Instead of taking easy roles like a grandpa in a silly comedy or as a curmudgeonly old man in some other silly comedy with heart, he takes on this role. Redford plays a very masterful sailor who flawlessly maneuvers his boat and patches ‘er up as if it was his second skin. Whenever yet another obstacle comes his way that impedes on his survival, there is no question whether he will know what to do. The suspense, instead, comes from whether his idea will work and whether fate will let it continue working.

As Redford becomes more and more distraught at his situation, his eyes, his expression, tell it all. The quiet pain, distraught, and anxiety is absolutely noteworthy come awards season, He is still a master actor. This solitary performance is entrancing and will keep you intrigued for the entirety of its 106 minute run.

boat- all is lost

The Silence is Punctuating

“All is Lost” uses sound very sparingly. There is about maybe 2 minutes worth of dialogue throughout the movie’s run. The film just expertly shows the struggles of a man to survive in a place where people were not meant to survive.

The music is also used sparingly. Any music that is used is meant to simply punctuate a tragic or oddly beautiful moment. Often it’s the tragic beauty of a man lost at sea that gives the viewer a feeling of awe and sadness simultaneously. There is one shot where, beneath the ocean surface, the camera looks up at where Redford is floating in his life raft while a school of fish swim together below him. The fish match the ebb and flow of the movement of the ocean, giving  a quiet, touching, and ethereal moment.

life raft - all is lost

We Are Small

This movie perfectly shows just how small we truly are. On a vast ocean, what we think of large boats, are just as big as an ant floating in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.  The struggles of this man are begotten by a need to survive, to keep going against all odds. This inspiring tale is something that should be kept in the back of everyone’s mind whenever a bad day comes their way. If a man, adrift, alone, can find the will to continue, then I’m sure mostly anyone can too.


By no means is this a perfect movie, nor is it for everyone. It’s a quiet struggle, not action-filled in the slightest. There are a couple dull moments, but once the movie gets going, there is no going back. Once the momentum of tragedy kicks Redford’s character into gear, he has only two choices – give it his all or give up. The ending, I would say, is the most perfect part of the movie. The most fitting summation to a story of a man the audience feels like they know after seeing him go through so much. It’s as if the audience is going through the struggle with him. It certainly deserves to be a contender come awards season, While “All is Lost” does not quite capture the immensity, and the immense beauty of the ocean in the way “Gravity” captured the immensity and immense beauty of space, it is still worth a watch. There seems to be a trend of watching one person, against all odds, fight for their life in impossible conditions. Whether it’s Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) in “Gravity” or it’s Redford’s character in “All is Lost”, the conditions these people are put into to survive, will make whatever struggle you have, seem a bit lighter. This movie is certainly cathartic in that sense.

My Rating: 8/10

allislost- poster


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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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