This American drama is about a man 'lost' at sea. It practically has no dialogue, and Robert Redford, as an unnamed character, is the only person in it, and Redford narrates the movie. In the entire film there are only a few spoken lines.
The movie won the Best Actor award for Redford from the New York Film Critics Circle, and won Best Original Score in the 2014 Golden Globe Awards. It is a film about a human being's desperate struggle to survive at sea, and the movie's action takes place in just eight or nine days.
Redford wakes up one night somewhere in the Indian Ocean, 2700 kms from the Straits of Sumatra, and suddenly becomes aware that his 12 m schooner, the 'Virginia Jean,' is taking water. His yacht has collided during the night with a shipping container carrying children's shoes.
The container was floating loose on the water, and his ship has a gaping hole in its hull. He tries to mend the hole unsuccessfully, and struggles with his ship's navigational communication system, which fails. An approaching storm descends on his ship, snaps its mast and capsizes the yacht, forcing him into a life-raft. And he has only limited food to survive.
Two ships pass him by, and he drifts back in the open ocean outside its shipping lanes. After giving up on the chance of being rescued, he writes a letter, puts it into a bottle and throws it overboard. Shortly afterwards, he sees something in the distance...
This is a simple film with an uncomplicated plot-line that demands a great deal of Redford, both physically and emotionally, and it is directed by J. C. Chandor, who shows excellent understanding of what creates great tension in a movie. Everything that could mean possible survival goes wrong, and Redford at 77 years is outstanding in his response to Chandor's controlled and taut direction. The tension of the movie comes very much from Redford's wordless reaction to the detail of events that occur as the film progresses.
This is a highly enjoyable, well-made movie that teaches important lessons about life, and its action is nearly always secondary to the human and emotional issues at stake. It is a very compelling and absorbing film about physical and spiritual survival.
- Peter Sheehan, ACOFB
Starring:: Robert Redford. Directed by J. C. Chandor. Rated M (Infrequent coarse language). 106 min.