Cannes Day #6: All Is Lost & The Great Beauty
This morning’s press screening of J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost marks my second and final screening in the famous Grand Théâtre Lumière. The theater features one of the world’s best projection screens and produces without a doubt the best sound I have ever heard come from a theater. Grand Théâtre Lumière can literally hold a couple thousand (approximately 2,300) and yet there is not a single bad seat in the house. Adding to the prestige of it all is walking up the famous set red carpet stairs to approach this astounding theater.
All Is Lost
The very opening scene of All Is Lost contains all of the dialog found in this hour and a half story of survival of a man lost at sea. We hear him recounting a farewell letter that he just penned where he admits his faults and states just how sorry he is, though we cannot relate. All Is Lost then jumps eight days back to show the struggles he had to endure from the wrath of mother nature.
Director J.C. Chandor does not provide many background details in the film, which is a brave move just as much as it is a burden. Questions such as who this man is or how he got in this situation are left completely unanswered. We have no idea what his faults are or why he is so apologetic in his letter. As far as the film is concerned, the only important thing is the impending doom that lies ahead for the unnamed character (played by Robert Redford). A storm is brewing on the horizon and his boat has already taken some damage, letting water in. Furthermore, his water pumps no longer function on their own anymore nor does his radio that would allow him to call for help.
You must credit Chandor on making these storms come to life with realistic visuals that combine with haunting sounds of massive storms found in the middle of the ocean. Although most of All Is Lost is about surviving days worth of storms, something that does eventually grew tiresome by the end, the best shots are when the camera is underwater showing the abundant sea life that surrounds him from below. The film offers very little hope, but with a title such as All Is Lost, I expected that to be the case. The biggest flaw for me is that no details are given about his life or what he has to live for, therefore, I found myself not caring as much as I could have about the character. Also, I will not go into too much detail about the ending other than to say it is a disservice to the rest of the film.
The Great Beauty
Paolo Sorrentino’s latest film La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) is essentially a day in the life of a wealthy journalist named Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), who on his 65th birthday begins to reflect on his life. He openly admits that his life adds up to nothing, despite being surrounded by an extravagant lifestyle of rich and fame. There is a chance that he has simply grown tired of the playboy lifestyle that he has been accustomed to his whole life. Jep is a man who lives without a care in the world, yet desperately wants to care about something again.
The somewhat lengthy runtime allows Sorrentino to explore many tangents in The Great Beauty, some of which probably could have been shortened. One particularly interesting one is a satirical take on performance art when a nude woman runs head first into a Roman monument in front of a cheering crowd. Afterwards, she is pressed on what makes her an artist but she breaks down without an answer, humiliating herself as a self-proclaimed artist. The Great Beauty takes a few jabs at the current snapshot of Italian culture as one character claims, “The best people here are tourists.” Ultimately, Jep is looking for the great beauty; Sorrentino seems to have found it.