Movie Review: #AdriftMovie

CAST: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin
DIRECTED BY: Baltasar Kormákur
SCREENPLAY BY: Screenplay by Aaron Kandell & Jordan Kandell and David Branson Smith (Based on the book by Tami Oldham Ashcraft with Susea McGearhart)
PRODUCED BY: Baltasar Kormákur, Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, Shailene Woodley
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2018
ADRIFT is based on the inspiring true story of two free spirits whose chance encounter leads them first to love, and then to the adventure of a lifetime. As the two sailors set out on a journey across the ocean, Tami Oldham (Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Claflin) couldn't anticipate 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 for rescue, Tami must find the strength and determination to save herself and the only man she has ever loved. ADRIFT is the unforgettable story about the resilience of the human spirit and the transcendent power of love.

True to life stories make some of the most interesting movies to watch.  Even when the movies aren't particularly compelling to watch, they still make for a voyeuristic glimpse into someone else’s life. This week’s Adrift (based on the 1998 memoir “Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea” by Tami Ashcraft) is just such an adventure. It’s a middle of the road movie and isn’t  a bad way to spend ninety minutes, but it isn’t a particularly good way to spend it either.

It seemed that the ocean was too vast for Tami (played by Shailene Woodley) and Richard’s (played by Sam Claflin) love story to fill.  The love felt forced.  The survival plot felt superficial and wanting.  The seafaring story was unoriginal. It never really hits any of its marks.  You have seen better love stories.  You have seen more gripping survival stories.  You have seen more entertaining ocean voyage stories.

Adrift has a non-linear story, making it difficult to get to know and really care about these two characters.  The movie starts with a post-shipwreck middle of the story scene, then goes back to the beginning of the one of the character’s stories, then back to the wreck, and so on.  The audience’s connection with the characters, either together or separate, took too long to materialize.  The audience was supposed to understand that Tami and Richard were enjoying a great love affair in Tahiti, because there was a wall of pictures to evidence all the good times, but none of that translated to the story on the screen.  Woodley and Claflin, despite their visible efforts, exhibited little chemistry as a couple.

As a survival story, it lacked genuine “white knuckle” moments.  There wasn’t a single scene of any real excitement.  It was all just kind of blah. Some of it was yawn-inducing and boring. The characters dried their clothes in the sun, they put on sunscreen, they ate peanut butter.  Adrift is based on a true story.  In the true adventure, the characters survived adrift for over 40 days.  It’s impossible that nothing much more exciting that eating peanut butter happened to Tami and Richard.  But the audience didn’t see any of it. 

As a seafaring story, there wasn't enough seafaring. It would have been interesting to watch the characters deal with the many calamities at sea in a way sailors do, but it seemed that whatever problems occurred on the boat were fixed by cutting to another scene on a different timeline. 

The best facet of Adrift was the acting.  Sam Claflin is always charming, and his English accent makes everything more interesting. His is a solid performance. Shailene Woodley has come a long way since her Divergent trilogy days.  It really seemed like the actors made a genuine effort at delivering a watchable and compelling film, but the were no match for the flaws.

Adrift is probably a movie best watched on some at home format, if at all.  There is nothing special about the gray ocean scenery or the sound.  No need for the big theater experience. But it isn’t the worst way to spend ninety minutes of time.  If you want to see Adrift in theaters, it playing now in theaters. 

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