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JC Chandor gains a Cannes hit with 'All Is Lost'

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 24, 2013 at 5:36 am •  Published: May 24, 2013
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CANNES, France (AP) — J.C. Chandor may just have saved someone's life during an interview in Cannes.

The director who put Robert Redford in a struggle for survival as a capsized sailor in "All Is Lost" is talking about mortality when a gust of wind lifts a large beach umbrella from its base and sends it and its heavy metal pole sailing straight toward a publicist sitting nearby.

Chandor snatches the projectile from the air just in time, to gasps from onlookers.

The garrulous American director shrugs off the feat — "I have good eyes" — before resuming his flow of words about life, death and putting a screen icon through the emotional and physical wringer.

"This guy is essentially me in a weird way," he said of the film's central — and sole — character. "Someone asked me if it's about my dad dying — my dad's still alive. It's about me dying. These are my feelings about this."

"All Is Lost" is writer-director Chandor's second feature, after Academy Award-nominated Wall St. drama "Margin Call." You can't accuse him of opting for an easy project.

Redford plays a sailor whose yacht is damaged in a collision with a shipping container in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The film follows him over eight days as he tries, first, to repair his boat and sail on, then simply to survive in increasingly perilous conditions.

The cast consists of Redford and the elements, the set is the claustrophobic confines of a small boat on the open sea. And there is no dialogue. Apart from a few lines of voiceover at the start and an emphatic expletive, it's a wordless film.

"There was certainly some ego" involved in that decision, Chandor said. "It seemed like a difficult and yet exciting thing to do."

"I felt I could make a very, very compelling, dramatic, thrilling — hopefully — film, but then by the third act you have this very intense emotional experience about a guy essentially coming to grips with his own mortality right in front of your eyes," he said. "It came to me that the best way to do that was just to have the audience experience what he was going through, so it was shot in a way that you were literally with him."

Redford is key to the success of Chandor's old-man-and-the sea story. The 76-year-old actor's famous, weather-beaten face and aging but muscular physique help give the movie its compelling intensity.

Chandor met the star when "Margin Call" was selected for Redford's Sundance Film Festival in 2011. He later sent Redford the "All Is Lost" script, and was surprised when the actor called back within a few days to set up a meeting.

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