Robert Redford in 'All Is Lost' (Photo: Roadside Attractions)
The Sundance Kid, lost at sea? Sounds like Oscar material to us.
Robert Redford shows that he's still got it and then some in the rather intense-looking man vs. nature survival tale, "All is Lost," a film that takes the Hollywood veteran "Out of Africa" and into the deep blue sea ... and its many dangers. Since Redford has never won an Academy Award for acting — he won Best Director in 1981 for "Ordinary People" and an honorary award in 2002 — and hasn't even been nominated as an actor since "The Sting" nearly 40 years ago, it might finally be time to give the 76-year-old legend his due.
The haunting trailer for the film shows Redford as the lone passenger of a relatively modest sailboat out somewhere in the ocean, where a random accident and just dumb luck puts a hole in the vessel, causing it to slowly but surely sink. Redford's S.O.S. calls bring back nothing but radio static, and soon he's abandoned ship, braving the sea on board a life raft and commencing with just trying to stay alive.
Watch the exclusive trailer premiere for 'All Is Lost':
The trailer gives the impression that the film has extremely little dialogue — which is even more intriguing when you consider that writer-director J.C. Chandor's previous film, "Margin Call," had such a rat-a-tat script (and an ensemble cast, at that). Redford is truly on his own here — there's no tiger to tame like in "Life of Pi," no Wilson the Volleyball to talk to like in "Cast Away." The pull quote from the Entertainment Weekly review says the film is "scarier than anything in 'The Perfect Storm,'" though "All is Lost" looks to be short on spectacle, concentrating more on the man than the nature.
"It's a very big challenge being alone, with no crutch, no dialogue, no words," Redford said at a press conference for the film's premiere at Cannes this past May. "It's a challenge that attracted me a lot as an actor." He had played isolated characters in films before, like the titular mountain man in Sydney Pollack's 1972 Western "Jeremiah Johnson," but never on this scale before. Redford said this movie resonated with him because, "I believe in the role of silence in film and in life because often we talk far too much. Silence allows you to really live your role and forces you to totally trust the director."
[Related: Robert Redford Goes Silent for 'All Is Lost']
Then again, Redford tends to appreciate silence and solitude off-screen as well. He famously avoids both the press and Hollywood (at least geographically), preferring a quieter life on his expansive property in Utah. He told AARP The Magazine in 2011, "When I got into the business, I had this naive idea that I'd let my work speak for me. I just was never interested in talking about myself."
Robert Redford rarely appears on screen these days, though over the past decade he seems to be choosing roles that are rather action-oriented. He was kidnapped by Willem Dafoe and forced to traverse the forest with his hands tied in the underrated "The Clearing" (2004) and went on the run as a wanted ex-activist in "The Company You Keep" (2012) ... and next year he'll be joining S.H.I.E.L.D. in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Even the relationship drama "An Unfinished Life" (2005) had a rugged living-off-the-land setting, and "Lions For Lambs" (2007) ... well, that movie had him challenging Andrew Garfield (the future Amazing Spider-Man) to step up and do something with his life.
Ultimately, "All is Lost" looks like the perfect showcase for an old-school Hollywood star who might want to remind everyone that he can still do a lot more than just sit around and run what's arguably the most popular film festival in America. It's officially one of the fall's must-see films as the director of "A River Runs Through It" takes on a much bigger body of water ... one with sharks in it, at that.
"All is Lost" will sail into theaters on October 18.
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- Robert Redford