2 June 2018 | dave-mcclain
great chemistry between the leads - and terrific use of flashback structure
"Adrift" (PG-13, 2:00) is an action-adventure drama-romance produced and directed by Baltasar Kormákur ("Everest", "2 Guns", "The Deep") and written by David Branson Smith ("Ingrid Goes West") and Aaron and Jordan Kandell ("Moana"), based on the book by Tami Ashcraft. Unlike most movies dramatizing something that actually happened, this one doesn't begin with the usual qualifiers of "Based on a true story" or "Inspired by a true story". This one tells us simply, "This is a true story."
Tami Oldham (Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Shailene Woodley) is a single 24-year-old adventurer, originally from San Diego, who works her way from place to place on a worldwide voyage of self-discovery. As the film opens, she gets off a boat in Tahiti and responds to the custom agent's questions by admitting she doesn't have an occupation or any idea how long she'll be staying in the country. In spite of her apparent aimlessness, she gets her passport stamped and starts working at the docks doing maintenance on various pleasure craft. That's where she meets the handsome and charming Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), who is in the process of sailing around the world on a journey similar to Tami's.
Tami and Richard are well on their way to falling in love when a wealthy older couple ask Richard to sail their yacht to San Diego, in exchange for $10,000 and a First Class airline ticket back to Tahiti. Make that two First Class tickets. Tami says she's not ready to go home yet, but she doesn't want to be separated from her new love, so she comes along for the ride... and, as a novice sailor herself, to help out where she can. Unfortunately for the young lovers, they get caught up in a monster storm at sea that damages the boat - and each of them - severely. The best solution seems to be allowing the prevailing currents to carry the boat east, try to navigate towards Hawaii - and try to survive long enough to get there.
"Adrift" is this film's title, but the story is anything but. Appearing in flashbacks, the story of Tami and Richard is told parallel with the story of the journey to Hawaii. It's an especially effective plot device in this intelligent screenplay. The two leads are each first class actors who play their roles expertly and with undeniable chemistry. This film compares well with Robert Redford's "All is Lost" and Tom Hanks' "Cast Away", with the added allure of the romance and the strong foundation of being a true story. "A-"