The All Is Lost fan club seems to have a few more older than younger members. David Thomson‘s recent rave and Maureen Dowd‘s N.Y. Times profile of Robert Redford (in the 10.13 Sunday print edition) suggest this. Several have noted that All Is Lost is a metaphor about how nature has a way of making things more and more difficult for long-of-tooth guys, and then surrounding and taking them down. Salman Rushdie told me at the Telluride Film Festival that it wouldn’t be as effective if Redford was in his 40s — the fact that he was born in 1937 makes it all the more poignant. My son Jett (who attended the All Is Lost Manhattan premiere last night) says he liked it “but I like Gravity better.” (To which I said, “You can’t tell me you prefer Sandra Bullock‘s performance to Redford’s…you can’t tell me that.”) And let’s not forget Guy Lodge‘s snide little ageist remark, posted on this site, when he asked if I like All Is Lost so much because I’m in the older camp. Yeah, that’s it, Guy.
Obviously the film’s metaphor are hitting closer to home with the over-45s than the under-45s. I don’t know why as the film isn’t exactly difficult to read. Redford’s “Our Man” is a fairly together dude, skilled at survival and no pushover against the elements, but younger GenXers and GenYers obviously aren’t relating as much. Then again the Academy membership will relate, one presumes, given the average age and whatnot.
Minutes before All Is Lost played in Cannes last May “we walk in and we sit down front and center and that made me nervous,” Redford tells Dowd. “Where do you escape? How do you get out of here? And then the film plays, and it was hard for me to watch it.”
“Mr. Redford, who has never won an Oscar for acting, braced himself for boos and received a nine-minute standing ovation.
“’It just threw me completely,’ he said. ‘I felt self-conscious and awkward and shy, and I didn’t know what to do.’ He remembers saying to his wife, the German artist Sibylle Szaggars, and his director, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ He said he also told Mr. Chandor, ‘Enjoy this moment because it will probably never come again,’ acknowledging with a laugh that he might have been a damper on the party. ‘I’m a great partner to have.’
“He says he has grown more comfortable in himself as he gets older, and abides by his favorite T. S. Eliot line: ‘There is only the trying. The rest is not our business.’
“To me, it was always to climb up the hill,” Redford tells Dowd. “Not standing at the top.”