Screengrab: Sailing By With Redford

Screen GrabRichard Lutz spots a disaster movie as the best film of the week on the box.

Content is king. What really matters in a film is the plot: what happens next, do the characters you like survive, are the characters you dislike defeated. Plot is king.

All Is Lost  (Thurs, 6AM, Sky Select) never lets you off the hook and is a masterpiece in film-making by that old warhorse Robert Redford.It is a great simple, elemental fable.

He is a nameless sole mariner in his forty foot yacht somewhere in the Indian Ocean. A rogue container rams his boat and it starts to sink. The next ninety minutes are void of dialogue (he is alone) as he tries to survive and fails to get on top of the disaster, nature and his own failings. It is man against….well, everything really.

So aside from his one raspy plea into a broken radio transmitter and a mighty four letter curse aimed upwards to a deaf god, you watch a perfect storyboard movie.

A doctor who looks like Robert Redford

At sea

Essentially, will this yachtsmen get through it? I won’t say. Because that is the elemental part of this adventure tale. But the little that I know about sailing (I am merely a pair of hands being told what to do by a skipper each summer), I know that little mistakes lead to great problems. And Redford knows how to portray this fact.

The director is JC Chandor, who also oversaw the excellent Margin Call and now is in charge of the soon-to-be released A Most Violent Year. There is a dab hand on the tiller here to portray an allegory about man versus nature.

Redford is now almost 80 and his bones creak as he slowly loses this great battle against the sea. And the ending… articles have been written about it. I won’t spoil it.

By the way, if you keep your recorder on, the succeeding film is McCabe and Mr Miller (passim) which is that Robert Altman treasure I wrote about late last year with Julie Christie and Warren Beatty. Two then, for the price of one.