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Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (Everest, The Deep), written by David Branson Smith (Ingrid Goes West) and Aaron & Jordan Kandell (Moana), and based on the book by Tami Ashcraft, Adrift (2018) is a true story filled with action, adventure, drama, and romance. In 1983 Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) is a young single woman from
San Diego who has been backpacking and working from place to place on a worldwide adventure of self-discovery. After arriving in Tahiti, she starts working at the dock by doing maintenance and cleaning on a variety of sea vessels. There she meets Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), a handsome and charming young sailor who is in the process of sailing around the world in his own journey of self-discovery. The two quickly fall in love and go on numerous little exertions around Tahiti, when a wealthy older couple asks Richard and Tami to sail their yacht to San Diego, in exchange for $10,000 and two First Class tickets to Tahiti. Despite not being ready to go home yet, Tami is not ready to be parted from her new love and agrees to go for the ride. Unfortunately two weeks into their trip, Tami and Richard get caught in a violent Category 5 hurricane that severely damages the boat and each other. Their best solution is to allow the prevailing winds and current to carry them east towards Hawaii and hope that they will survive long enough to get there.
After filming Jaws, director Spielberg stated that filmmakers should never film on the open sea because the waves and weather can easily cause chaos. However, director Kormakur did not take head to Spielberg’s advice and the end result is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Director Kormakur is an experienced sailor and in order for the cast and crew to understand what it feels like to be completely isolated, they would sail 2 hours out from land and start filming. As the film progresses you start to see the characters fade, especially Tami who had to do everything because Richard was to wounded to move. What doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger, but rather Love makes you stronger. There were times when Tami was in tears and close to going crazy but she kept going because of Richard, who continually reminds her that she can do anything she puts her mind to. And despite being a novice sailor, Tami knows that if she doesn’t try then they’ll die and no one will find them.
Thanks to writers David Branson Smith and Aaron & Jordan Kandell, and a lot of impute from Tami, Adrift (2018) is a rare true story film where the story is beautiful, exciting, and gut-wrenching. Unlike most true story dramatizations that open with "Based on a true story" or "Inspired by a true story," this film simple tells us "This is a true story" and you can feel it from the opening scene. Rather than follow the story in the traditional sense, the film starts off as part survival part love story with the first scene taking place in the aftermath of the storm. From there, audiences are given flashbacks of how the couple met, fell in love, and later were approached to embark on this trip in the first place. If you know nothing of this story, I highly recommend you keep it that way and the film will be even more entertaining then you expected.
The cast mainly involves Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies) and Sam Claflin (Charlie’s Angels, 2019) who give superb performances. Woodley brings a highly convincing performance and manages to increase the tension and drama; her range of emotions are incredible to see unfold. Those first few scenes when she can’t find Richard are her most riveting and vulnerable moments, and her performance at the end will leave you in tears as well. She is beautifully accompanied by Claflin who also gives a superb performance. In the flashback scenes, they infuse their characters with an awkward charm and a humorous sense of wonder. While in the present scenes you can still see how much they love each other despite dealing with unimaginable circumstances.
Overall, Adrift (2018) is an authentic, riveting, and deeply moving film that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster. The story is gripping, while Woodley and Claflin gave superb performances. If you know nothing of this story, I highly recommend you keep it that way and the film will be even more entertaining then you expected. Even if you already know the story, you won’t be able to help being submerged in the storytelling and come out wondering what would you do in similar circumstances.
"We're not going to die out here."
- Tami Oldham [from trailer]
Worth Seeing: 9.5 of 10 star
Worth Buying: 9.5 of 10 stars
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