Review: “Adrift” Bolstered By The Magnificent Shailene Woodley

Everest director Baltasar Kormákur brings to the screen the true story of Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp who, after Hurricane Raymond in 1983, are left injured and adrift while sailing from Tahiti to San Diego.

Adrift - Blu-ray UKAdrift is based on the true story of Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) who, in 1983, were caught in Hurricane Raymond while sailing from Tahiti to San Diego.

The films opens with Tammy finding herself adrift on a partially wrecked yacht as she realises she must face one of cinema’s greatest villains…the ocean. The ocean has recently terrorised Robert Redford in All is Lost, Colin Firth in The Mercy and was the main antagonist in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. This is yet another film that capitalises on the human despair generated in the search for land/escape from the never-ending hopeless horizon of the ocean.

In an initially intriguing turn, the film has a dual narrative, as the couple’s desperate search for land after the hurricane, runs parallel to their courtship pre-hurricane. As is revealed in the trailer, Sharp is in precarious physical condition after the hurricane leaving Tammy to do the majority of the heavy lifting. The same dynamic is also apparent in the script as Woodley is far better served. She is allowed to explore more both physically and emotionally to create the only immersive character. Whilst Claflin is always charming, the combination of script and his apparent lack of range leaves him in an inferior position to Woodley. The dynamic is so one sided that during the early blossoming relationship you begin to question what she is doing with him especially when he corrects her description of a red sunset to “a beet-dyed pomegranate”.

Woodley is a commanding screen presence and you are left waiting for the script to engage you as much as you want/expect. The structure does keep you interested as the dual climax of the two timelines, the hurricane and their fate, build to a crescendo. The juxtaposition of their bleak search for land and their initial romance filled with laughter at times creates a compelling narrative arc. The romantic thread does allow for a break from the bleaker thread unlike the constant dourness of All is Lost. The trails they face at sea have all been seen before – catching fish, more storms etc, but there are still a few surprises.

Adrift - Shailene Woodley

The film is not overlong but does at times still feel overstretched due to the lack of chemistry/spark within the initial relationship, which slowly cuts away at the tension that Adrift tries to create. I would cautiously recommend this film as you get exactly what you expect, but it does feel like a missed opportunity that had the potential to be so much more as it barely stays afloat by the end.

adrift, three stars

Written by Lyndon Wells

Adrift - Blu-ray UKDirected by: Baltasar Kormákur
Written by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin
Released: 2018 / Genre: Drama / Country: USA / IMDB
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Adrift is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital.

About the Author
A film geek and cinephile masquerading as a Doctor, husband and father. With my dog Bilbo by my side I seek to prescribe a healthy movie experience through accurate diagnostics. Find me on Twitter: @lwellsfilm

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