Another reason why I will never be in this situation. Adrift on the ocean is something that I will never have happen to me, because I will be landlocked as much as possible.
Adrift is based on a true story of Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) and Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley), a recently united couple who were to sail a friend’s ship back to San Diego for them but, along the way, they encounter a hurricane which wrecks the boat and puts them in jeopardy. At this point, the film becomes about survival.
The story is told by interspersing flashbacks to see how the two main characters get together and how they fall in love with the present survival tale on the remains of the boat.
How effective this movie will be depends solely on how much you connect to the two characters. If you do not buy their relationship, then the movie will certainly sink for you. I enjoyed the relationship between them and I thought both Woodley and Claflin did a solid job creating a reason for me to care about them. That was hurdle number one.
Hurdle number two is to make sure that the scenes that they flash back to in the narrative are as enjoyable and as important as the life and death scenes from the boat. I would say that this was a hit and miss. At times, the scenes from the flashbacks were not as impactful or as engaging as the scenes on the boat, and, a few times, when the film went to the flashback, it slowed its pacing down too much. There are certainly strong flashback scenes as well that were very effective in telling the narrative.
Hurdle number three is how do you make this kind of film, a story that we have seen many times, different than all the others and worthy of its place in the genre. This is another area that this film struggles in until the very end, where a very effective and emotional plot point occurs that changes everything that you have seen up until that moment. I will not spoil it because I really appreciated the aspect and I hope you all go in to the story without the spoiler.
That would mean that you would have to avoid the true story that this film is based on, but it is worth it if you can do it.
The film looks wonderful, with the expansive blues of the water, the sunsets of “red” and the dramatic dangers of the hurricane. There are some excellent shots portraying each of these and helps to elevate the film beyond just another lost at sea film.
This is one of Shailene Woodley’s best performances, certainly better than anything we saw in the Divergent trilogy. She brings the goods here and the chemistry between her and Claflin makes them easy to root for and to fear for.
The film may have dragged a bit too long in the middle or some of the flashback sequences could have been edited down, but otherwise, Adrift is a solid movie with an exceptional ending and decent performances among its leads.