On the open seas of the Indian Ocean, an older man is trapped against an abandoned shipping container after his boat drifts into it. Finding a way to detach his boat from the container, he discovers that the hole in the side let in enough water to ruin his communications and flood the cabin. He slowly evacuates the water and tries to put together the electronics he has to find a radio signal. Though he connects for a moment, he is unable to communicate with the person on the other end. Unsure of what to do next, he simply continues to drift along. He eventually sails into a violent storm, which sends his ship churning in the waves. After struggling to survive, the ship is ruined and he has to decide to abandon it to his life raft and hope that he can last long enough to be found by a passing ship.
Starring: Robert Redford (Our Man)
This film was one that was anchored by only one leading man. Redford gave an strongly emotional performance, as he did more acting without lines than the few moments be expressed himself verbally. The violent and unrelenting nature of the open waters provided opportunities for him to exhibit strong nonverbal expressions as he struggled to hold onto life. In the few scenes where he had lines, they were short and still overtaken by his nonverbal reactions to his situation, whether it was frustration, depression, or hope.
JC Chandor created quite the story of survival, though it was difficult to get a sense of his story before he ended up alone in the middle of the ocean. The film started with a quote about survival but immediately placed him stuck against the container. The lone man was able to break his boat free but he seemed to also not be sailing toward anything specifically. It was not until the storm hit and his boat was damaged beyond repair that he finally had a mission. After the storm, he realized that his boat was ruined, his supplies were low, and his time was running out. While it did not help that he experienced another storm in the raft, the false hope of the ships going by was much more damaging to his hope. In the end, he found himself finally willing to let go of life and submit to the idea of no hope.
The survival of this solo man was the focus of the story. The first part of the film was focused in his independence and resourcefulness. While there was no sense as to why he was out there alone, he seemed to be able to manage the challenge quite well. As the storm overtook the story, he seemed a little more unsure of himself and what to do but also appeared to keep his cool when everything began to go wrong. The mast broke, he got flooded overboard and the boat spun upside down with him trapped in the cabin. His resourcefulness turned into a desire to fight for survival. After transitioning into the life raft, his struggle to keep pushing went through waves. The passing ships helped to reenergize him, but he also struggled to maintain any optimism. He had to get to the brink of hopelessness to finally make a decision to live or give up.
The film at times was a bit confusing and long, but the performance by Redford was undeniable. He created a true sense of care for the survival of this weary sailor.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5