Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp couldn't anticipate that they would be sailing directly into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. In the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to find Richard badly injured and their boat in ruins. With no hope of rescue, Tami must now find the strength and determination to save herself and the only man she has ever loved.
Based on a true story about a couple that were caught in a hurricane while sailing from Tahiti to San Diego and being adrift for 41 days afterwards, it's a definite survival movie. Unlike the action packed volcanoes, floods, and earthquake movies, Adrift is a slow-burner. The film even starts after the hurricane, mid-way through the story, drip-feeding you backstory while jumping back to "present time" to follow the challenges of the protagonist. Initially, it seemed an odd move to structure the film in such a way, constantly switching between two different time periods, but it becomes an integral part of the plot, which is revealed late in the film, but also implied throughout.
I was honestly unsure how I felt about Shailene Woodley in the lead role of this film. Rather unimpressed by her work in the Divergent film franchise, I couldn't help but go into the film with seeds of doubt already sown. That being said, she did very well. From the opening scenes, I found myself empathising with her character through the simple act of struggling to walk through debris in a cabin full of water. There is an absolute reality that humans, while we dominate on land, are abhorrently useless at physically moving through water, or controlling the many variables of the ocean.
When you think about it logically, you really do need extra substance to pad the movie (i.e. backstory), because watching people slowly starve to death would quickly turn boring. Switching between times keeps the interest and curiosity, while building the relationship of the two protagonists. The relationship could certainly have been handled a lot better. The movie gives the impression that the entire build-up to the movie (and therefore the entire relationship) came up over a few days. It almost contrasts the pain that Woodley exhibits onscreen (which feels like something one would have gained from a longer matured connection).
Sam Claflin does a lot with so little. His role in the film is more that of a spectator, but his presence is felt throughout every decision that Woodley makes. The film builds tension and suspense at the audience and adds a generous dash of misdirection and distractions to keep you guessing just that little bit longer. Beautifully shot, and grounded in the reality that it is based on. My only real gripe with the film, is that after the big reveal, the movie simply rushes to an end. We have a strong female character who overcomes obstacles and survives in a situation that many could not have, and yet it plays out as if she could not have done so without the male presence. Some may argue that he in fact holds her back from accomplishing what she is able to do, but it goes without saying that he made an impact of the latter half of the timeline, when his situation and contributions should have proved minimal use.
But it feeds the romance; the idea of a genuine relationship being worth any pain it may cause. I can't really say much more without going into spoiler territory, but Woodley provides a commanding performance in this film, and she does Tami Oldham's story justice.
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