Robert Redford Says Speaking Is Overrated, Keeps Quiet in ‘All Is Lost’
Robert Redford in 'All Is Lost' (Photo: Roadside Attractions)
Redford is receiving rave reviews for his work in the shipwreck-themed drama — which debuted this week at the Cannes Film Festival. He plays an unnamed man piloting a yacht in the Indian Ocean, whose vessel is struck by a shipping container, tearing a hole in its hull. When the man finds his navigation equipment has failed as his yacht takes in water and a storm approaches, he's thrown into a life and death battle against the sea. Beyond a brief opening narration and a few angry shouts, Redford plays the role without dialogue.
Robert Redford at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday (Photo: Dave J Hogan/Getty)
"I believe in the value of silence in film," Redford said. "I believe it in life as well, because there's a lot of talk around – maybe too much."
Redford is hardly the only actor of note to play a screen role with no dialogue – Samantha Morton did it in 1999's "Sweet and Lowdown," as did Alan Arkin in 1968's "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter," and Jane Wyman won an Oscar without speaking a word in 1948's "Johnny Belinda." But Wyman, Arkin, and Morton all played characters who were mute – in "All Is Lost," Redford instead plays a man with no one to talk to, and his physical actions are the hook of the story, not words.
Judging from early reviews, Redford's near-silent performance is a gamble that's paying off handsomely for him as well as writer-director J.C. Chandor (this is his second film). Eric Kohn on IndieWire wrote, "Virtually each shot is a reminder, decades since Redford appeared onscreen in a truly challenging role, that he's one of America's great actors. 'All Is Lost' doesn't reinvent his appeal so much as amplify it." And Justin Chang in Variety called the film an "emotionally resonant one-man showcase for Robert Redford."