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.
This sailor, whose name and origin we know nothing about, wakes up in his ship, only to realize that it has been wounded by a big floating cargo container. The film starts with us knowing nothing but this sailor's current state. No past or future. Only present. A peaceful present that seems to have been disturbed by an unfortunate accident. The sailor is trying, and after a lot of work manages, to fix his ship, to patch up the big hole in its side and take out the extra water from the inside. But before he even realizes his small success another disaster hits in.
Through all these tests the sailor has to get through, we experience his deep connection with his ship. It is his friend, his companion. They help each other it seems, he gets hurt when it does. All those feelings are obvious through the sailor's body language.
He doesn't say much, he doesn't need to say much and so he shows his every feeling and emotion through his rough body. His random gazes, his nods, his head, all shout out what he cannot spell. Through the course of this unending trip, we see him go through various of states; the peaceful, the nervous, the persistent, the satisfied, the angry, the desperate.
The direction follows patiently the sailor's trip in the sea, his adventure that begins and ends on water. Out in the open ocean where the only things between him are Nature and sea. He, as an experienced captain and used to accidents and misfortunes as this, he tries to replace the damages and go on. His stoicism is unique.
He never complains and doesn't give up. He is such a force of hope that it is almost too much to bare. His strength and health are being tested all the time. He is alone against nature with a broken ship. But his attitude is the one that keeps him alive. It reminded me the short story of Hemingway "The old man and the sea". Where being alone in the sea and fighting against all those obstacles can only make you stronger, better and wiser.
It's poetic essence, the contact with Nature and its rage are shown with such enormously amounts of respect and gratitude. Gratitude towards these powers for teaching men, and this man in particular, to face themselves, to embrace their humanity and to accept their faith.
It is a movie of great importance and emotion. Perseverance and strength, the boldness of battling with nature, the greatness of man's mind and soul. They are all here, allowing so much more to intervene, to mingle, to settle, to absorb through this movie. Redford is astonishing with his performance as the sailor he represents. He is giving an amazing one man show, proving his worth as an actor. He takes all the burden of any small imperfections on his shoulders, that's how good he is.
'All is lost' is definitely underestimated. But this does not diminish its worth and its value into the cinematic, anthropological world. The sailor and Redford himself are icons, legends of courage and wisdom, faces of everyone who ever doubted themselves.
Everything you see looks back at you and your mind just settles peacefully in the unsettling world you live in. The anonymous sailor represents all those things you keep hiding from yourself. Like him, you need to face the facts, you need to keep on trying, to survive, you need to make the necessary reflections in order to be a winner in your own game, a winner in life.