Adrift, rated PG-13
Adrift is an intense film based on a true story. More than 90% of the movie was filmed at sea. It is directed by Baltasar Kormakur (Everest) and written by brothers Aaron Kandell and Jordan Kandell (Moana), and David Branson Smith, based on the book by Tami Oldham The True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea.
The film is set in 1983. Tami Oldham, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies, The Descendants), has been enjoying taking it easy in the sun and surf for about five years since graduating high school and leaving home in San Diego. She currently has a job at a small marina in Tahiti. Tami meets the older 33-year-old Englishman, Richard Sharp, played by Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games) when he brings his boat into Tahiti. Richard’s passion is sailing and he actually built his own boat. You could say that both Tami and Richard have been adrift, without purpose, in their lives, going nowhere. But they soon develop a relationship. Richard mentions that he would like to sail around the world.
Then a wealthy couple offers to pay them $10,000 to sail a 44-foot yacht to San Diego. That would provide Tami and Richard enough money to sail for a full year. Soon, we see Tami and Richard take off in the yacht on the 4,000-mile journey from Tahiti to San Diego. As they travel, the film uses flashbacks to look at their growing romantic relationship.
About halfway into their journey in the Pacific Ocean, they run into Hurricane Raymond, a destructive category 5 hurricane. As they struggle to control the yacht in 145 knot winds, Richard is thrown overboard and Tami sustains a head injury. After some time, Tami sees Richard floating in the ocean clinging to the dinghy and is somehow able to rescue him. He has sustained significant injuries. All of this is shown in the film’s trailer.
The yacht is badly damaged and the communications no longer operate and there’s a food shortage. Their boat is not along any flight plans or shipping lanes. Will Tami be able to care for Richard and somehow get help or navigate them to safety? The odds are certainly against it.
We’ve seen stories like this in the past. The film may remind some of All is Lost, Robert Redford’s 2013 excellent one-man show at sea, or the story of Louis Zamporini as told in Laura Hillenbrand book Unbroken.
The cinematography by three-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson (Hugo, The Aviator, JFK), is superb, capturing beautiful sunsets and the beauty and the terror of the ocean. The CGI depicting the storm are also very realistic and frightening.
Content concerns include some adult language including abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names, a brief nude scene along with immodest clothing and the intense storm at sea. Themes include love, courage, survival, and perseverance.
Adrift is a well-acted film based on true events that will keep your interest. The storm, and aftermath, is realistically portrayed, which makes this film difficult to watch at times.