Damn, I keep trying to come up with something clever. This is why Mary Jane hasn’t been in a movie since 2007 because she’s been lost at sea, but nothing’s really coming to mind. Curse you, creative juices!
The story looks like it’s about a young woman who meets a young man who sails, they strike up a romance and decide to sail off into wild blue yonder together, only to get their asses handed to them by a storm, resulting in the dude getting seriously hurt and she with finding land to save them both despite no sailing skills.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Shailene Woodley (SNOWDEN , and the upcoming ARKIE ) and Sam Claflin (JOURNEY’S END , MY COUSIN RACHEL , ME BEFORE YOU , HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY 2 , and upcoming films RED SHOES & THE 7 DWARVES  and NIGHTINGALE ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Baltasar Kormákur, known for EVEREST (2015). Co-penning the screenplay, making for a red flag total of three writers, are David Branson Smith (INGRID GOES WEST ), and brothers Aaron and Jordan Kandell, who each have a story credit for MOANA (2016), so I guess this is their first credited writing debuts? Congrats, guys. Composing the score is Volker Bertelmann, known for LION (2016), and upcoming films HOTEL MUMBAI (2019) and ASHES IN THE SNOW (2018). The cinematographer is Robert Richardson, known for BREATHE (2017), LIVE BY NIGHT (2016), THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015), HUGO (2011), and upcoming films A PRIVATE WAR (2018) and ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (2019). Finally, the editor is John Gilbert, known for HACKSAW RIDGE (2016), and the upcoming THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN (2019).
Overall, this doesn’t look too bad. I’ve heard a few say that it looks boring and if the characters aren’t well-written and the romance is too sappy, I might agree. But I won’t lie, I think Woodley looks like she’s acting her heart out, so I’m holding my expectations modestly high. Plus, Claflin usually churns out solid work, so I don’t see why this couldn’t be good.
This is my honest opinion of: ADRIFT
Set in 1983. Twenty-four year old drifter, Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley), has arrived in Tahiti and begins a new adventure of who knows. She eventually meets the dashing thirty-three year old British sailor Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) and the two strike up a romance. After a few months of passionate fun and love, Richard is presented with a great opportunity to earn some serious money, but it involves going to San Diego, California in America, exactly where Tami is from and isn’t ready to go home after spending five years abroad. But after some coaxing, she is convinced to join Richard on his journey across the ocean. However, not long in, they’re faced with a violent hurricane and are set adrift. With Richard too injured to help, Tami is more or less forced to survive on her own.
I liked it… er, eventually anyway.
I’m all for a good survival story. And any good survival story would basically be like THE MARTIAN, present situation, and then present a character who figures out the immediate problem and then solve it, all the while getting closer to where they need to go. I think MARTIAN did this superbly, so I was really looking forward to this following suit. And for the most part, it does it well. I liked the character Tami, coupled with Woodley delivering arguably her career best performance. Despite her limited sailing experience and knowledge, she proves to be extremely resourceful, smart, clever, all held together by an iron-clad will to survive despite the odds towering against her.
Here’s the problem. Actually, there’s two problems. One, that’s not what the majority of the movie is. In fact, a good third, maybe even half of the movie is all about Tami’s relationship with Richard. Two, the editing is out of control. The movie bounces between Tami and Richard’s survival on the Hazaña and how they met and everything between the moment they met to when the storm hit them, causing the whole plot of the movie. Thing is, they jump between time frames too frequently and many of the scenes don’t serve any real function. The first edit back to the ocean is literally two minutes to showcase that the boat’s radios don’t work, whereas the next flash shows her making repairs to the sail and generally fixing problems. I don’t understand why the two scenes in question couldn’t have been one scene. Even the dating scenes are pointlessly cut around. Like one is literally just Richard giving her a dress. This doesn’t come back into play, until the ending which is pretty shallow reasoning, nor does it reveal anything about their characters. It just exists.
And sadly, this eventually translates to boredom. In retrospect, the movie should have been told linearly, instead of flashbacks, especially since more than a few of the dating scenes didn’t amount to much. The dating scenes were dragging the movie down from the more interesting survival story. I think the movie didn’t have enough faith in the chemistry between it’s two leads to hold the survival scenes together, which is where the meat of the story should have taken place. I understand building up a relationship and getting the audience invested, but I already was pretty early on. Woodley and Claflin had great chemistry that carried over very well into their survival on the Hazaña. But then the relationship kept building up and up until my interest was starting to wane.
Thankfully, as soon as the dating scenes mellowed out and gave us what this movie was basically about, it picked up extraordinarily.
What I definitely appreciated about the film was the balance of hopelessness and lighter tones. In MARTIAN, it was primarily a comedy, and I can’t count how many survival stories are straight-up dramas, or even downright horror films, but I think this really tapped into it’s inner CAST AWAY and found a nice balance. It has sprinkles of horror, what with hallucinating ships and extreme wide shots of absolute nothing but ocean, it’s drama where Tami is changing Richard’s bandages and the hopelessness of how long her food will last them compared to how it will take to get to Hawaii, but there’s also a sense of comedy as she feeds them both peanut butter (what is it about peanut butter that makes survival stories so intensely happy?), and little jokes here and there. I guess, what else would you do with your time? Spend all day being hopeless and accept death, or make light of the situation to keep you going? I like that Tami is nearly always active in trying to figure out how to solve her next problems, abandons her vegetarian lifestyle to hunt fish and eat them, among everything else that I might have missed, it’s all great to witness and carries the rest of the film quite well.
Overall, I can’t say this is anything amazing, but I liked this film when it was being what it advertised. The survival aspects were compelling, the relationship between Tami and Richard was engaging, I just wish there was a bit more survival and little less dating. But ultimately, I give this is a recommendation. It’s no movie-of-the-year, but it’s worth checking out. Great acting, great cinematography, it’s just the editing that needed some serious polishing. It’s no CAST AWAY, but it’s still a good flick.
My honest rating for ADRIFT: 4/5
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