Well, I watched the movie
couple nights ago and then read this entire thread to see what people thought of the movie
, specifically the interpretation of the ending. I found the movie a little uncomfortable to watch in that Our Man reacted to situations in what seemed like too much of a lackadaisical manner. I appreciate that this was meant to portray him trying to control his emotions and not react frantically and to not panic, but the performance was a bit too understated for my taste; It didn't feel wholly believable. Right out of the gate in the opening scene I'm scratching my head
at Our Man's "reaction" as the pouring water
is coming into the boat; Our Man acts like he was unnecessarily woken up by a dolphin splashing water on his face or something.
I think the lack of him muttering to himself did have a positive impact on the film, in that it invited you to think about how he was feeling and helped bring you into the film more, but it also added to it feeling a bit slow going (at least in the beginning) and uncomfortable to watch. When he finally did release the pent up despair that he was trying not to show or express, it didn't feel to me like he was releasing it; it felt more like Robert Redford wanted to really make an impact when he delivered the expletive. It felt like an actor yelling a line; it didn't feel like a man at the edge of his limits, saying to hell with it and screaming. But maybe I just found the scene jarring. I recall
that he almost stuttered delivering the line, tho, which seemed quite odd and misplaced to me. :-/
I was also disappointed that the waves weren't higher and that they didn't do a better job showing the boat being tossed about by the big waves.
I didn't find this film enjoyable, but I did find it engaging and uncomfortable (in a horror film kind of way) as it went on.
His treatment of the companionways was irritating (did they just not show him put them back for brevity or did he really just toss 'em every time, leaving his ship open to the elements?) While I am generally technically obtuse, I never did understand the significance of him shimmying up the mast
to screw in a coax cable. Even though I don't have a clue when it comes to technical stuff, something seemed 'off' about this scene from a verisimilitude point of view. To me it just seemed like a dramatic way for him to discover the storm (I gave this scene a pass in the name of artistic license
His effort to save the electrical equipment
by splashing a little fresh water on it was a smart move, but it didn't seem like it was enough fresh water to have a meaningful effect.
The gash on his forehead looked like he had hit his head
on a sharp corner of the stove or something, not a smooth, rounded pole. I guess an adventure movie is not an adventure movie without the use of those little butterfly bandages...
I liked that his character wasn't a proper seasoned sailor (in that he said SOS instead of May Day, and did other things that were sloppy); it gave you a sense of the kind of person he was, that he wasn't an expert sailor and that his blue water trip was outside the norm. I think there was a bit of a 'to hell with it' mentality in his embarking on such a solo voyage, before any of the mishaps happened. As others have stated, I think it is very plausible that all is lost
in his personal life before he sets sail, which his letter/opening soliloquy hints at. I took the soliloquy to be referring to how he had been in life (but had failed or let down significant people in his life); not just his current
I thought the scene with him lighting
the raft on fire was more compelling than silly. He's exhausted, he's desperate, and I thought the scene was done very well the way he suddenly realizes (having never even considered it would happen) that the fire had gotten bigger than he was hoping it would. This wasn't really a film about perseverance and cunning seeing you through. It was more a film like Jack London's To Build a Fire
, about facing up to one's mortality (Chandor said it had to be an older guy playing the part of Our Man).
It never occurred to me that the boat that rescued him might have all been an hallucination, but after reading the links in this thread I think it makes sense: I was wondering why the film cut before showing him pulled into the boat? And it fades to white (hinting at seeing a white light), and he doesn't release any air bubbles coming up. Also, what was the fishing
boat doing out in the middle of nowhere? He wasn't that far outside the shipping
lanes and thus still very far from land, therefore seems very unlikely a small boat would be hanging out there. The tone of the film up to that point wasn't really one where you were expecting him to survive, either, (the tone was really very similar to To Build a Fire
). The title of the film also doesn't really lean toward a happy ending.
I may watch the film again, which must say something about its merits. I guess I'd like to better understand why so many critics thought it was such an excellent film. I like these kinds of films; castaway types. I loved reading about Josť Salvador Alvarenga's survival story. Yesterday, I also bought Callahan's Adrfit per recommendation in this thread. And I love any stories involving the sea, so I was hoping this movie would be more exciting and compelling, but my initial viewing of it leaves me with the experience of a B, maybe a B+.