First Hit: Interesting, strong acting, and by the next day I still had a lot of questions.
This film is amazing in that there is only one actor and there is virtually no dialog. Yes the actor is the strong Robert Redford, but we are forced to dig past Redford the person, and see a character which we have to determine, for ourselves, who he is and why is he in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
One of the clues we have is the prologue where the voice over has Redford (as the character) reading the note he puts into a jar and tosses it into the water near the end of the film. The other clue is the name of the boat, the “Virginia Jean”. Is the name of the boat, his wife’s name? Mother’s name? Daughter’s name? Home state? We don’t know and never learn. Did he commit a crime and is hiding from the law? Did he lose his wife and finding solitude by being alone? Did he make it big and decided retirement was to just be the master of his own ship, not having to rely on anyone else?
What we do know, he’s been sailing for a while because the interior of the boat looks well lived in and he is a competent sailor. We engage this unnamed sailor in his boat, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, when it collides with a sinking metal shipping container.
The collision puts a major hole in his boat and it begins to take on water. The scenes following this crash give the audience a view of this man. He’s pragmatic and doesn’t get flustered. He’s a thinking man and he’s older because he can’t and doesn’t move too fast. He knows what he’s doing because he follows what he needs to do as a sailor. As each new disappointing development comes and goes, we continue to see him make survival moves.
One question that came to me while watching was; why was he experiencing these failures? But because we know nothing about him, it is all speculation.
Redford is outstanding in this role. He gives you everything in his actions, expressions, and in his eyes. This role must have been very challenging and Redford shows he’s up to the challenge. J.C. Chandor wrote and directed this film. Many of the shots were amazing and beautiful. I’m still not sure what he wanted to say in this film.
Overall: Visually strong but with so many questions, I was left wondering.