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  • Writer's pictureIrene E. O'Leary

Best enjoyed in solitude: All Is Lost, 2013 by KC Chandor, starring Robert Redford (revisited)

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Currently we find ourselves in a unique state of isolation, perhaps we've all experienced similar bouts of feeling cut off from our social ties, our buoys of activity responsible for keeping our spirits afloat, just out of reach. But this is different, a physical lock-down with no foreseen end, rather than a transient emotional state of being. It has the power to extinguish your spirit with the weight of an ocean of loss and suffering.

It is also an opportunity to find creative outlets and rethink our modes of communication. An opportunity to look deeper into ourselves and tend the ember of what kindles our imaginations and embodies our humanity. While this state seems to be tightening it's grip on our freedom of mobility with each passing day, I assure you things will return to an approximation of "normal" in what, in retrospect, will feel like a blink of the eye. And so, I encourage everyone to make peace with the frightening circumstances and embrace the countless opportunities which abound in our shrinking, yet infinite, social spheres while the time is ripe.

And the time is definitely ripe for enjoying a film best served solo. I can attest, having experienced it myself on a panoramic screen surrounded by silent strangers, seated in what would be considered a safely staggered pattern (before it was hip), I was thoroughly Alone, and I highly recommend you try it.

Now, if you will, step outside of your cabin fever and into the cabin of our protagonist's sail boat. Meet, nay become our seafaring champion, name unknown as he is the Only actor in the film and doesn't address himself, played by a well-weathered Robert Redford.

Your course is set on a trans-ocean journey planned for two, you are alone. Refusing to heed your family's pleas, you are set on completing a commemorative trek, whether to honor the memory of the one who was "everything" to you, or to prove to yourself that you are strong enough to survive, even thrive, on your own.

You are feeling the rush of self empowerment as salty ocean mists kiss your cheeks and feeling confident in your abilities when your vessel strikes an errant storage container causing a gaping gash in the galley. Tapping into your inner MacGyver, you break into creative problem solving mode, employing every ounce of Boy Scout preparedness in what grows to become a furiously futile salvage attempt.

You are forced to evacuate with minimal tactical gear, steadily these tangible treasures take leave of you. And finally, you are left to reflect on your grief, and battle waves of hopelessness with bouts of fierce determination, adrift in an unforgiving yet spectacularly scenic sea...


Drawing upon recollections of a film I haven't seen in 7 years, so apologies if my reconstruction is off; your unique life experiences will likely add to your own interpretation of the film, so just watch it :)

AND... I just unearthed my initial take on the film, unmarred by the gaussian blur of time.

"All Is Lost" is a movie that was perhaps intended to be watched alone... I have long romanticized the idea of taking on the challenges of the sea, envisioning myself withered with nothing left to lose surrendering to the whim of nature at it's most fierce and beautiful majesty, the last threads of survival hinging upon willful ingenuity in the face of certain defeat. Old Man and the Sea ingrained this glamorized notion of streching one's perceived limitations, fighting the recurrent hardships life throws in your path and rising above the crushing waves of depression and helplessness which promise a solemn quietus in the somber embrace of their undertow. "All is Lost" dispels this illusion of martyred self-sufficiency. I don't want to give it all away, but I will say that watching it, I could smell the damp musk of the life boat and taste the salt water (can't blame the theater- it's brand new!). I think the lack of dialog forces us to pull more of the story from within, while pulling us deeper into the story.. Catch my drift? The ebb & flow a never ending cycle, and then you run out of flares. I recommend experiencing this movie for yourself.

If you like this kind of stuff and crave MORE, perhaps via non-actors... Try the series "ALONE," you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder "Why?" And you'll have things to keep you occupied. ☺️

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