This is “Gravity” on a sailboat with practically no dialogue at all.
This is Robert Redford’s Oscar bait. He is the only person on screen. The entire film. We hear his prologue in the beginning but for the rest of the film, he speaks maybe 20 words.
This movie jumps right into the story from the opening seconds. Redford’s character (we never learn his name) is on a 39 foot sailboat which is taking on water after it’s rammed by a floating shipping container in the Indian Ocean. It immediately becomes a nail-biting race to save himself. He faces the wrath of nature alone: wind, storms and sharks. It’s a fight for his life. Redford has to pull it off mostly through facial expressions and body language. Incredibly, the 77 year old has never won a best acting Oscar, though he won one for best director for “Ordinary People”. His acting here is flawless .
39 year old J.C. Chandor directs this taut no-frills thriller. It follows his debut triumph of 2011, “Margin Call” , set over 24 hours in the high stakes world of Wall Street.
This is an unusual film: besides the lack of dialogue, there’s no back story and no flashbacks. We don’t have a clue who this guy is. It’s just the present in the moment here and now. Honestly, I think I would have cared more had I known him better. I found it peculiar that at least two passing cargo ships failed to notice his life raft or flares, given that in last week’s Tom Hanks film “Captain Phillips”, radar easily picked up small pirates ships more than a mile away. Then there’s Redford’s designer clothes. But I guess if you’re on a 39 foot sail boat in the middle of the Indian Oceran, money is not an issue.
By the way, the ambiguous ending may drive you mad. It’s not “Sopranos”- ambiguous but it leaves room for debate.