Film Review 2 – Adrift (2018)

We thought after the terror of Jaws and the length of time it took many to go back in the water that such a call would heeded but disasters aplenty the lure of the ocean is still as infinite as the “beautiful-briney” itself. Ok, we jest, but the fact remains that the ocean blue makes for compelling storytelling and there have been many stories told about those brave enough to traverse its choppy plains. Adrift tells once such story.

We set sail with Tami Oldham (Woodley), a young woman who is on something of a paradise trek across the most beautiful places on Earth. Along with her voyage of personal enlightenment and discovery, she meets British sailor Richard (Claflin) and the two soon fall head over heels. Richard has a reputation as a great yachtsman and is soon offered a job that will see the couple venture together across the furthest reaches of the oceans. However, they cross path with a super hurricane and soon face a fight to stay alive, hundreds of miles from civilisation and with their supplies dwindling.

Woodley, fresh off her magnificent turn in HBO’s Big Little Lies which returns very soon, was the driving force behind bringing Tami’s real-life tale to the screen and that passion shows in yet another stellar turn. But this is a two-fer and the movie stands or falls by the performances at its core: thanks to Sam Claflin, it’s dynamic duo is truly compelling. Their chemistry is fantastic and they are together for the duration which gives the film such a brilliant centre. Both have chosen their recent roles carefully, branching away from the Fault in Our Stars and Me Before Yous of this world into much more compelling arenas and both are the richer for it.

Behind the camera is acclaimed filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur, he of Contraband and Everest fame and it’s the latter that is perhaps the closest in terms of scope and drama to this one. The difference here is that Kormakur chooses the “gritter” route in bringing the story to the fore, relying more on something closer to reality than the now over-familiar CGI. That’s not to say some computer effects aren’t needed as they are (though not exactly stellar) but it’s in the realism that the filmmaker is more at home with here and with cinematographer Robert Richardson they do a good job of keeping things thrilling.

It’s in the screenplay where the problems with the film arise sadly and threaten to derail the good work of the ensemble both in front of and behind the camera. As sickly and overly-indulgent as some of Claflin and Woodley’s previous outings, it would perhaps have been without its leads in other circumstances if it hadn’t been for her sheer determination to get the film made. At times a thrilling drama but as a whole, Adrift won’t be with you too long after you’ve dried off.

Scott J.Davies | [rating=3]


Drama | USA, 2018 | 12A | 29th June 2018 (UK) | STX Entertainment | Dir. Baltasar Kormákur | Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Grace Palmer, Tami Ashcraft