Directed by Baltasar Kormakur
The stranded-at-sea movie has only a limited number of outcomes. “Life of Pi,” “All is Lost,” “The Perfect Storm,” the middle part of “Unbroken”…each has its similarities, and only marginally different outcomes. Survival stories are like that—they go one of two ways. “Adrift” draws from elements of all of these movies, despite being based on the true story of Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp.
She (Shailene Woodley) was in Tahiti trying to escape her boring Californian existence. He (Sam Claflin) was on a mission to sail to as many new worlds as he could. When they met, their love was undeniable. After months of exploring and falling more thoroughly in love, Tami and Richard were offered $10,000 to drive a friend’s boat from Tahiti to San Diego. Despite wanting to go anywhere but back home, Tami agreed to help. She would come to regret that part of their story. When Hurricane Raymond blows in, their small yacht wouldn’t stand a chance.
Woodley gives a bravura performance in a hefty role. After starring in adaptations of young adult novels, Woodley has found her stride in movies like this and television series like “Big Little Lies.” She’s showing that she hasn’t outgrown her talent. She and Claflin have brilliant, enviable chemistry on screen. But as much as “Adrift” is a deep dive into two characters’ struggle for survival, the screenplay lacks. Not the story as a complete picture, but the dialogue, which is mostly cliché-filled statements of love or desperation. Typical survival movie stuff. More impressive are the film’s visuals, which make you feel Tami and Richard’s horror when the storm hits. The hurricane scenes, with the actors being pummeled by water, were shot on a set, but for the rest of it, filmmakers spent 15-hour days on the open sea off the coast of Fiji, filming for five weeks. That commitment to a realistic portrayal of the true story (despite the hokey, too-cute dialogue) sets “Adrift” apart from its competition and makes it a movie you really should catch on the biggest screen imaginable.