Some called it "Life of Pi" without the tiger.
Others compared it to Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea."
But most critics liked what they saw in "All Is Lost," an almost dialogue-free narrative feature starring Robert Redford as a sailor alone and in distress.
The film premiered Tuesday at the Cannes Film Festival. Directed and written by "Margin Call's" J.C. Chandor, "All is Lost" will be released by Lionsgate in theaters in October.
Here's what the critics had to say:
"You wonder just how Chandor can manage to make a feature film about a man stuck on a damaged and sinking boat seem dramatic. It's the detail and precision of his storytelling style that makes 'All Is Lost' so engrossing. As viewers, we are entirely caught up in the sailor's struggle."
"As close to pure existential cinema as American filmmaking is likely to get these days, 'All Is Lost' finds writer-director J.C. Chandor decisively avoiding the sophomore slump with a picture that could scarcely be more different from his 2011 debut, 'Margin Call.' An impressively spare, nearly dialogue-free stranded-at-sea drama that strips characterization down to basic survival instinct, this emotionally resonant one-man showcase for Robert Redford faces a fair number of marketing challenges, given its audacious minimalism and proximity to a much splashier castaway adventure, 'Life of Pi.'"
"Redford's exceptional performance will serve as the primary commercial calling card for Lionsgate upon October release. 'The Old Man and the Sea' certainly represents a template for this straightforward, intensely focused tale of a man battling the elements, although Chandor has stripped his drama of any extra baggage, be it allegorical, metaphorical or spiritual. It is what it is, just about a man exercising his skill and limited options in the face of happenstance, bad luck and whatever nature decides to throw at him. Which is plenty.
"On one level this pared-down strategy makes for a beautifully simple idea: we are presented with the human as animal, scrapping with the fish and sharks (occasionally seen, creepily, circling under Redford's craft). But it also makes forcefully clear the advantages of the conventions of character fleshing-out: we are never allowed inside Redford's mind, and the character remains almost entirely opaque."