Out this week in cinemas is Adrift from director Baltasar Kormákur. Starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin as a couple up against insurmountable odds after a hurricane devastates their boat and leaves them stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Adrift is a true story based on the events surrounding a hurricane in the Pacific Ocean in 1983 and two people who were caught up in it. The film stars Shailene Woodley as Tami Oldham and Sam Claflin as Richard Sharp her fiancé. The film follows how they met and through the course of five months, we see what lead them to that fateful event.
When we first meet Tami (Woodley) she is awoken from an oceanic slumber as the boat she is on has become the victim of a tremendous unseen storm. She heads out to the exterior of the boat to try and find someone and finds nothing screaming in anguish. We are then given a flashback set five months prior where Tami is entering Tahiti. She’s asked at customs several questions and from them, the audience learns her personality at least. She is currently travelling the world to better understand herself and she travels from place to place via odd jobs. When she gets a job at the local port she meets Richard (Claflin) an older man who is also travelling the world to broaden his horizons via his custom-made boat. The film then flashforwards back to current events as Tami is scrambling to fix the sinking boat and find Richard as he seems to have fallen overboard.
From this point on I will stop as any further discussion of the plot will delve into spoiler country. Suffice to say Adrift is about Tami and Richard’s relationship and how it is tested to its limits as they try to survive out in the Pacific Ocean with seemingly nothing to protect them from the elements.
Adrift is a gorgeous film and as you watch the journey of these two people you can’t help take in the beautiful scenery they find themselves in. From the sun-soaked beaches of Tahiti to the vast reaches of the ocean that envelops Tami and Richard Adrift is a stunning film. The characters that fill it though are somewhat plain in comparison. You’ve met people like Richard and Tami with the same mentality to live life on their own terms so when you meet them you can almost guess their conversations before they happen. This clunky dialogue and clichéd nature is saved by stellar performances from both Woodley and Claflin. I will say that Woodley is given more to work with and thus shines far more in Adrift than Claflin. She has a lot of emotional weight in her character’s journey and watching her walk that path is at times quite intense.
Director Kormákur utilises a method of flashbacking during key moments in the film to further explore the relationship between Richard and Tami. At first, this was an excellent palette cleanser as the lighter scenes between them worked nicely with the more brutal scenes set on the wrecked boat. Unfortunately, this gives way to tedium when you just want to see how the two are faring as the days pass. Kormákur just about saves this with the eventual reveal of the storm which causes this catastrophe and when it happens it is impressive. The claustrophobic feeling is potent as you watch the storm rage against Richard and Tami.
Adrift is a simple enough film. It’s effective with the emotions it wants to get out of its audience and the superb acting from its two leads ensures that you’ll enjoy this film. Unfortunately, clunky dialogue, questionable directorial choices, and a slightly bloated run time of 96 minutes means Adrift weighs it down.