This post is supposed to be a review of the Robert Redford movie All is Lost – and it is – but it is also unfortunately a diatribe on the rudeness of fellow movie goers. Sadly, some people just do not know how to behave at the cinema; the whole experience sadly tainted what might have been a really enjoyable movie.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t super psyched to see All is Lost; I like Robert Redford just fine, but it wasn’t a movie that when I saw the trailer I thought to myself “I need to see this.” The story of a man lost at sea is not necessarily a plot line that jumps up and grabs me. I hadn’t really dug Castaway when I saw it back in the day, so I was a bit nervous that this would be more of the same. Redford was getting a lot of buzz for his performance, though, and that made me think that I needed to see this movie while it was still in the theaters. When you hear that this could be the performance of an actor’s career – and that actor is the legendary Redford – you have my attention. If there was a chance that he would be nominated I would eventually have to check it out anyway, so I might as well save myself some trouble and see it while it was conveniently in the theater.
All is Lost is indeed a real showcase for Robert Redford; he is the only actor in the film and much of his acting is done without any words. There is little to no dialogue in the movie and the soundtrack is the noises of nature: water lapping against the side of the boat, thunder grumbling in the distance. On paper, it is a very simply movie but its complexity is in its execution. There’s no burying the lede on the film – Redford is in peril as soon as the movie commences. On a solo voyage, he wakes up to discover that the Virginia Jean is taking on water thanks to a large gash in the side of the boat (courtesy of a collision with a shipping container). As he tries to repair the damage, a bad situation becomes worse when a storm sweeps in. With his communication and navigation devises destroyed, Redford must do what he can to keep himself alive. Thanks to his stellar and emotional performance, the audience is on an emotional journey with him. Even in his silence, he is able to convey so much emotion and increasing concern as his situation continually worsens. It was hard to watch this film and not feel a little helpless and overwhelmed for him; though the title of the movie certainly prepares you for the onslaught, as things continue to go badly for this unnamed character you can’t help but feel more and more anxious.
Unless, of course, you were sitting next to people that I was sitting next to. Then you are so annoyed that you can barely focus on the film while you are mentally debating whether dumping a drink on them is worth a ban from one of your favorite theaters. You see, these people decided that since there was little to no dialogue in the film that they should provide some. Through the entire movie.
To quote Taylor Swift, one of the great minds of our generation, “I knew they were trouble when they walked in.” This trio of late middle aged people came in during the previews, chatting away. I was mentally trying to will them to find somewhere else to sit, but sadly I had the row to myself and was sitting close to the wall, so this was the first convenient place for them to plop down. I was hoping that these people just didn’t respect the sanctity of previews and would shut up once the feature actually started; history has shown that this happens in about 75% of these cases. It still drives me bonkers that people talk during previews, but there are only so many fights in me and I’ve learned to let this one go. Thankfully I go to so many movies that I know that I’ll see a preview again if I am disrupted by idle chitchat. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, though there was a definite vibe to them that made me think that they were not worthy of my good faith. Sure enough, I was right.
The woman next to me insisted on saying “Oh Jesus!” every time something remotely bad happened to Robert Redford. The first utterance of this came about 3 minutes into the film, when he realized that the hull was flooding; of all the things that happened to him in the film this was probably the most benign, but as his condition slowly worsened the calls to a deity only increased. Two hours of this would be enough to wear on the soul of even the truest believer. The movie is called All is Lost, yet this woman seemed surprised that anything remotely bad was happening.
This was annoying, but it was the conversation that the three of them carried on that was the real distraction. I don’t know if they thought that they were being quiet, but they were failing miserably if that was their goal. The male member of the trio had an opinion on everything that Redford was doing, though based on appearances I doubt that this guy had ever set out on open water. The woman in the middle seemed to be confused by a lot of what was going on, which was troubling as this wasn’t a very complicated plot to follow. I may not have understood all the technical stuff related to sailing, but I understood enough to get that he was in peril. Add in the Jesus stuff and a movie that should have been a quiet contemplation on one man’s struggle to beat the elements was beginning to sound like an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where the robots and human crack wise and perform their own commentary over terrible B movies.
It was their incessant giggling that finally sent me over the edge; there was absolutely nothing remotely funny happening on screen and these three adults in their 50-60s were laughing hilariously at some comment made by one of the three of them (I’m guessing the man). I’m pretty non-confrontational in practice; when people annoy me at the theater I usually am pretty passive aggressive about the whole thing. You may get a sigh or a glare from me if you are being disruptive; if I’m really feeling saucy I may even turn around so that you know that I’m annoyed with you. That’s about as far as I take it. I’m not really afraid that anyone will do something to me, though that should be a cause for concern, but usually I just don’t want to disrupt everyone else watching the movie trying to shut up other people. Plus I hate to be “that person.” I know that not everyone takes movies as seriously as I do, so I try to keep my expectations in check. I also hate to take older folks to task for their terrible behavior; I was raised to respect my elders, so shushing them is a challenge for me.
These people, however, brought me to my breaking point and I finally took a deep breath and leaned over and asked them if they would please stop talking. It took a lot of willpower not to yell or cuss at them as I had been stewing on their bad behavior for a while, but I figured that launching into an expletive filled rage was probably going to diminish the effectiveness of my request. More flies with honey and all that jazz. The woman next to me said “sorry” and I thought that perhaps speaking up had actually worked as they fell silent for a continuous five minutes, which was the longest that they had gone without comment.
And then they started talking again.
At that point I just gave up; there wasn’t much I could do other than go get an usher and that would have required me missing the movie and making all of the annoying people in my row stand up. I conceded that while I was rooting for Robert Redford to survive I would also be rooting for the people next to me to drown just to get an ounce of silence. It really was a shame; All is Lost might have had more emotional impact for me if I could have just enjoyed the movie without their incessant babbling. It really ruined the whole experience for me. I contemplated taking their picture to put in the blog, but opted against it. They are honestly that I didn’t trip them as we were filing out of the theater.
This, sadly, has become more and more commonplace at this particular theater that I attend. You would think that you would run into more issues with teenagers at the multiplex rather than older people at an art house theater, but the latter behaves far more poorly in my experience. You would think people that age would know how to conduct themselves in a crowded theater and realize that what goes at home shouldn’t fly when you are in a public space, but being courteous to strangers really seems beyond them. I don’t know if it is entitlement or what, but while this is the worst experience that I’ve had in a while it has become such a recurring problem that I actually dread going to my favorite theater. I’d rather take my chances at the mall, which is a sad state of affairs. I’d rather support an independent local business, but until the clientele figures out how to keep quiet for 2 hours my presence there is going to be greatly diminished. If I was ever shushed in a movie theater I would be absolutely mortified; these people were told point blank that they were disruptive and it hardly fazed them.
So I’m sorry, All is Lost, that I can’t give you a totally fair review because the product that you put on screen was tainted by some chatty cathys. Even their constant conversation couldn’t distract from the excellent job that Redford did; he really puts on a show and while the success or failure of this film rested squarely on his shoulders, he more than rose to the occasion. I don’t know if it was necessarily the performance of a lifetime, but he was really quite good and the film is worth checking out simply to see how one man can wordlessly carry a movie on his own. The story seemed a little slow in some parts, but was otherwise fairly engaging. If it wasn’t for the potential Oscar buzz I never would have taken a chance on All is Lost, but it was worth the effort to go see it. I’d recommend going to see it – just be wary who you sit next to when you do.