“All Is Lost” is two hours of Robert Redford on a boat in the Indian Ocean, and the boat’s sinking — that’s it, no other characters, no other story lines, hardly any dialogue. It sounds like a recipe for sheer boredom. Instead the second film by writer-director J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call”) is a nearly perfect thing: Economic, elegant, and elemental, it’s a cleanly observed tale of one man trying, choice by choice, to keep the odds going in his favor.
You can supply your own allegory here if you want, but it’s not necessary. “All Is Lost” works quite brilliantly on its most basic narrative level. Redford is quietly magisterial and the movie is a Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook that ever so subtly backs into Zen. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.