Remember Colin Farrell alone in a Phone Booth years ago? That was one example, but there were other people involved in that scenario. In All Is Lost, there is only Robert Redford as a sailor whose boat collides with a shipping container. Will he survive?
The film partly works because of Redford’s strong performance. His weathered face and weary eyes all help to bring the message across: here is a man not only fighting the elements but also weakness and despair.
There are only so many camera angles a director can use, and the protagonist’s desperate efforts to keep from drowning can only take up so many minutes of screen time. In the beginning, while the viewer is still adapting to the enclosed space, it is tense and riveting. But the novelty wears off as director GC Chandor taps every bit of mileage out of the story. At 106 minutes he starts belabouring the point.
But it is an interesting experiment that some viewers might find fascinating.