The rest is all thrilling process of a sort Hollywood isn't much good at anymore: just a person taking clear and meaningful action in a cramped, precarious space. In the first moments, Redford's character, hereafter just Redford, awakens on his fancypants boat to discover that even the insulated rich sometimes take a hit from globalization--in this case, in the form of one of those one-size-fits-all shipping crates, a floating boxcar that has spilled off a trawler and cracked Redford's yacht. The rest of the film is him trying not to die. His radio is fried, the boat is sinking, and the nearest shipping lanes are hundreds of miles away.

In a way, it's an earthbound variation on Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, with one inhospitable element swapped for another, and desperate folks hauling every bit of strength and ingenuity up out of themselves to survive. Chandor shrewdly handles the complex cause-and-effect of boat life--it's always clear what each rope Redford handles is attached to, and there's wonderful tension in moments where Redford is clambering from bow to stern--those surfaces are slick, those waves unpredictable. The film is, in one respect, more daring than Cuarón's: We're given only a few hints about this man's pre-crisis life, which is just fine. The will to survive is moving enough--here it is, stripped to its elements.

Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake in Inside Llewyn Davis
Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake in Inside Llewyn Davis
Robert Redford in All Is Lost
Robert Redford in All Is Lost


Inside Llewyn Davis
Written and Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
View the Inside Llewyn Davis trailer
Opens in New York theaters Friday, December 6. Wide release is December 20

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See Also:
The 51st New York Film Festival Is as Varied as Its Hometown

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