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It’s the life of brine in Adrift

Sun-kissed lovebirds are all at sea during emotionally harrowing 90 minutes based on real events

29 June, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Sam Claflin and Shailene Woodley in Adrift

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur
Certificate 12a

BASED on a true story, Adrift joins a long list of ocean-set tales about people fighting the elements, of the harsh, unwavering cruelty of Mother Nature and the insignificance of a mere human when they try to take on the planet’s natural power.

Think Robert Redford’s All Is Lost or Colin Firth’s The Mercy, and you are in the same salty brine as Adrift.

Tami Oldham was a 24-year-old wanderer, taking on odd jobs along the Pacific seaboard, travelling from California to Mexico and then to Haiti and beyond. She was a resourceful adventurer, enjoying the sun and sea and a sense of freedom that will make you yearn for the ocean.

When handsome, lonesome sailor Richard Sharp sailed into port, they hit it off, fell in love and quickly decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin play the two sun-kissed lovebirds who meet in a Pacific paradise. Things are going nicely for them, plans are being laid when an elderly couple Richard knows offer them £10,000 and two first-class flights if they can sail a luxury yacht across the Pacific to San Diego.

We watch as Richard says yes, but Tami, who is originally from San Diego and is escaping unhappy memories there, is less sure she is ready to return, even if for a brief period.

Such dilemmas provide a “what if” factor to the plot – we know what is about to hit the couple as the story does not run in a chronological order. Instead, we are treated to an opening shot of Tami coming to in a cabin full of debris and salt water, a massive gash across her head and no sign of her boyfriend…

It sets the scene for a fairly intense and emotionally harrowing 90 minutes, as we learn their dream sail has clearly gone horribly wrong and, instead of kicking back with an ice-cold piña colada as they watch the sunsets, they are adrift with food stocks running low and some serious injuries to contend with.

Director Baltasar Kormákur has given us some absolutely breathtaking shots – the opening sequence is particularly well crafted – and the ocean is a key character throughout, with a nice lack of CGI.

It is only let down by the slightly cheesy back stories of how the two drifters fell for each other, of their happy-go-lucky lives and the sense of adventure they could not contain. It makes for some stilted conversations as the viewer is told in a rather obvious way that they think each other gorgeous.

Still, that’s a minor grumble – you’d have to be hard of heart not to feel some twinges as the drama plays out, and to know this is based on real events means it’s impossible not to be moved by what transpires.


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