Spoiler alert: this whole review may be a spoiler alert, so I’m warning you now. If you know even the slightest thing about this film, though, there’s nothing to spoil.

But I, as usual, went in knowing absolutely nothing about it. When I received the invitation to the Los Angeles industry screening of All Is Lost, and I immediately invited Mr. X, he asked, “Isn’t that the one where Robert Redford says just eight lines?” I thought he was just trying to torture me, because he knows that I like to go into a film knowing absolutely nothing. (Unless the genre is horror; then I need to be warned immediately, so that I don’t go see it.)

The lone cast member of All Is Lost, Robert Redford.

The lone cast member of All Is Lost, Robert Redford.

But let me tell you, I don’t think he says even eight lines! Robert Redford is the only person in the film, and what he says is at the very beginning, off-camera. After that, it’s basically an almost two-hour object exercise. It’s an excellent film, one that totally held my attention despite the lack of dialogue, but I have to admit that “object exercise” is the perfect description for it.

Those of you who’ve never taken Acting 101, I’ll define that exercise for you. It’s usually the first solo assignment in every beginning acting class. It’s basically just doing something that’s normal to you, with no dialogue. In my very first one in high school, when I was fourteen-years-old, this is what I did, because I’m so clever that I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone: I brought in a pair of old dungarees, (yes, that’s what we called them in Brooklyn,) and cut them down to short shorts. You’re wondering how I did this in a classroom without appearing in my underwear, aren’t you? (If you were paying attention to what you were reading, that is exactly what you were thinking.) Well, my skirts were just about as short as the shorts I was cutting the pants into, so I just put them on under my skirt to ascertain where to make the cut, and then took my skirt off. Yeah, it was sort of cheating because at home I would’ve taken the skirt off first, I’m assuming, but other than that, it was perfect. The funny thing is that, just as I was putting the finished shorts on under my skirt, the bell rang, and the male teacher said, “Thanks, Karen, I think we’ve seen enough.” We all laughed. And I got a 10 out of 10, the highest mark he’d ever given for an Object Exercise! And I wondered why many of the male teachers called me Sexy Salkin! (They really did, even though I didn’t even have a clue of the concept of being sexy. And how inappropriate was that, anyway?)

So back to the Redford film, All Is Lost. Right from the very beginning, he plays a man who’s having a bad situation on his boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean. But I’m telling you, I was riveted to it. It’s really fascinating. I just think people should know what it’s about going in, because if they don’t, they may spend the first half hour wondering when someone is going to talk, (or, if they’ve already seen Captain Phillips, when the pirates are going to show-up,) and that might ruin it for them.

The lack of anyone’s words competing with my thoughts for attention in my brain allowed me to jot down some random thoughts as it went along. And, lucky you guys, I’m about to share:

Wow! And I thought Mr. X knew how to invent things!

As interesting as it is, what possessed someone to make this film?

You must see this film with a great sound system.

The sea is so loud, you can even unwrap candy through most of the movie.

This movie is the opposite of my former show, Karen’s Restaurant Revue; on that, I talked for an entire half hour in a row. Although, I did get into a number of scrapes myself.

It reminded me of something that happened when I was first doing my above-mentioned show: Angie Dickinson called me out of the blue one day, because she and her friends were fans of mine! I almost fainted. She invited Mr. X and me to some big charity dinner, and one of her other guests at the table was an old-time big songwriter, Sammy Kahn. One of the performers was Bobby McFerrin, singing his old hit, Don’t Worry, Be Happy, which consisted of mainly an “instrumental” made by Bobby banging his chest, and other things like that. After this went on for a while, Sammy leaned over and said to me, “Nice lyric.” I kept thinking of that throughout All Is Lost.

I’m shocked this movie is actually as interesting as it is.

I actually keep forgetting that that’s Robert Redford up there.

And I was worried that I wasn’t wearing any sunscreen to the screening!

At least he didn’t have to remember any lines.

And lastly, upon seeing the end credits: there was one cast member, and about five hundred workers!

That’s it for what I was able to jot down in the dark. But it was educational to hear Robert Redford and writer/director J.C. Chandor speak after the screening. Though Redford is far from a chatterbox, he did have some interesting things to say. My favorite was his answer to the query of if he missed interacting with other actors in doing a movie like this. His answer? “Depends who your fellow actor is!” Amen to that, brother.

The other revelation was that he’s seventy-seven-years-old! Outside of having totally weatherbeaten skin, he still looks like the handsome man he’s always been. That was an upbeat thing to see.

Not even close to update, but definitely worthwhile viewing, is All Is Lost. And, I’m not being flippant here, but it would be great to own for when you can’t get to sleep. Just pop it in your player, and the sound of the ocean will be better than a white noise machine. I think my friend I brought to the screening can attest to that.


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