dir Baltasar Kormakur
scr Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, David Branson Smith
prd Ralph Winter, Baltasar Kormakur, Shailene Woodley, Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell
with Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Grace Palmer, Jeffrey Thomas, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Kael Damlamian, Luna Campbell, Siale Tunoka, Zac Beresford, Tami Ashcraft
release US 1.Jun.18, UK 28.Jun.18
18/US STX 1h36
Out to sea: Claflin and Woodley

woodley claflin
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Adrift Based in true events, this often harrowing story of survival is filmed and acted with skill. So while the screenplay is somewhat choppy, there's a solid emotional through-line in the two central characters. And Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur tells the story in a way that sweeps us right into it, all the way to the deliberately soppy conclusion.

When she finished high school, Tami (Woodley) left home in California and travelled the world for five years. Now in Tahiti with no plans for where she's going next, she meets Richard (Claflin), a kindred soul from England who built his own sailboat. With their common love of aimless travel, they decide to combine their journeys into one. But first, Richard needs to sail a yacht back to San Diego for a wealthy couple (Thomas and Hawthorne). And en route the boat is crippled by a hurricane, drifting for more than a month.

Somewhat frustratingly, the film chops up the story, cross-cutting between Tami and Richard's sweet romance in the picturesque South Pacific and their nightmarish ordeal lost at sea. This means that neither strand is able to build up much momentum, because just as something happens, the film cuts back to the other timeline. Perhaps the filmmakers worried the gruelling adventure would be to hard to take in one go, so they reduced it to bite-sized chunks.

But Woodley particularly shines in this half of the story, playing Tami as a resourceful young woman who motivates herself to do whatever is necessary to protect the wounded Richard and slowly steer the boat toward land. It's a riveting performance, and it would have been even more emotionally involving if we had seen all of the relationship scenes before we got to the trauma. Opposite her, Claflin is also strong, finding nicely edged chemistry then matching Woodley's raw emotions in the heavier scenes.

The film looks terrific, as Kormakur makes the most of the watery setting, isolating this broken boat in a vast ocean. Since it's based on Tami's book (she appears as herself at the end), we kind of know how it's going to end. But there's a nice coda at the very end, even if Kormakur can't resist cranking up the sentiment. And while there's perhaps not much here we haven't seen in other movies like this, at least it's a great showcase for Woodley and Claflin. And an inspiring story of tenacity.

cert 12 themes, violence 12.Jun.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall