This film certainly brings back memories. Like its main character, a solo sailor played by Robert Redford, I know what it's like to be alone and in trouble on the open sea. In 1997, my yacht capsized in a storm in the Southern Ocean while I was competing in a solo round-the-world race. I spent four days in the upturned hull until I was rescued by the Australian navy. In a situation like that, a new person emerges from
Redford's character, whose name we are never told, makes a lot of mistakes the average person probably wouldn't notice, but they're obvious to an experienced sailor. You can't climb back into your boat after falling off it in a storm – just try grappling with a yacht in enormous waves. And we don't see him carrying any of the usual safety equipment: he has no handheld GPS, no distress beacon, no VHF radio, not even a pair of binoculars. It's never clear when the film is set, but if it's meant to be modern he would surely have had these devices.
I did enjoy All Is Lost, but I couldn't work out what the storyline was: we never learn why the sailor is making his solo voyage. I suppose some people might wonder, similarly, why anyone would decide to sail alone across vast oceans. We all have our reasons. I do it because I love the challenge of competing in races; others just decide to plod off round the world, taking their time, thoroughly enjoying themselves. That's not my idea of fun. If I'm not racing, I'd rather be sailing with the people I love, drinking wine and frying up some good food.
Despite the grim experience it depicts, I don't think the film will put people off learning to sail. There's a gulf, anyway, between those who sail on holiday and those who train to sail competitively around the world. And we do see Redford's character enjoying himself before his problems start – pottering about, making cups of tea. I was surprised he didn't talk more, though. When you spend so much time alone, you do tend to start talking to yourself.