Film Reviews

Adrift (2018) movie review | more romance than rugged survival story

July 1, 2018
Adrift movie Shailene Woodley

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Adrift is all at sea – which is both a blessing and a curse

One of the greatest complaints one could level at 21st-century film is that the trailer almost always gives away the entire plot. It makes sense; trailers are designed to show you exactly why you should fork out €10 or more to watch beautiful people pretend to be other beautiful people for two hours or so. Adrift‘s trailer, however, is slightly confounding – perhaps because the film itself doesn’t know what it is all about.

Taken at face value, this is a trailer for a movie about survival – a young couple in love find themselves at the centre of a storm, fighting to save each other and themselves. And, to a certain extent, that’s what the film is about; there are no huge twists and turns; there is no conspiracy.

But in battling to present it both as a love story and as a tale of survival, against all odds, Adrift loses its way somewhat, and while both sides of the story – the romance and the battle – could be equally compelling, something falls flat in the dragged-out retelling of each.

The good: Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley, we should all know by now, is an incredible actress. Whether or not you have enjoyed all of her film and television choices is another thing; the Divergent series is somewhat, er, divisive (for what it’s worth, I loved it – sometimes a simple, rubbish, entertaining dystopian apocalypse action film is just the ticket), but she steals the show in Big Little Lies. I haven’t deigned to watch The Fault in Our Stars, so on that front I cannot comment.

Her character, Tami (based on the real Tami Oldham) is not without its flaws – and in that, I mean that she plays another generic surf-loving, devil-may-care blonde, in the style of Blake Lively in that excellent shark thriller you should all watch immediately. You know the type: she walks miles in flip flops, seemingly without a single between-toe blister issue; she wears a short coral necklace that somehow does not make her neck disappear entirely; she does not wear a bra at any stage throughout the entire film.

The bad: Sam Claflin

It’s no wonder Sam Claflin’s Richard falls for Tami, pronouncing, inexplicably, “you’re fearless like a bloke!” as Shailene leaps about four feet off a small rock into a body of water (spoiler: she survives). It’s somewhat more difficult to understand what Tami sees in Richard – perhaps she’s blinded by the sheer size of his home-made yacht.

Anyway, Sam’s very British rendition of a clearly British character – see above re use of “bloke”, not to mention a bizarre exchange where he reveals himself to be just as in touch with his emotions as all Celtic men (you’ll know it when you get to it) – is just not all that sympathetic or, you know, likeable, which would probably be helpful as the movie is ostensibly 80% Tami and 20% Richard.

The conclusion?

As previously mentioned, I don’t go to the cinema for the stunning acting or the incredible cinematography, or, even, for the well thought out plot lines. I go for the seats and the darkness and the snacks – and on those fronts, nothing ever disappoints.

If you feel like watching a bizarre mish mash of intense romance and drama on the high seas, it’s better than Titanic and a great deal shorter. Plus, watching Shailene tie knots like she was born on a schooner has motivated me to work on my own practical ineptitudes, lest I find myself adrift on a yacht in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with nothing to eat but Spam and sardines. (Honestly? I’d rather die.)

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