Hot Take: Your typical “based on a true story” tearjerker that’s an excellent vehicle to showcase the talents of Shailene Woodley. The stunning visuals are a bonus, too.
Tami Oldham’s survival-at-sea tale took almost 4 decades to make it to the cinema. That’s a little surprising considering the speed at which harrowing true events find themselves converted into cinematic works. Starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin who have previously toyed with our emotions in other films (Woodley tugged at the heartstrings in The Fault In Our Stars while Claflin plucked at them in Me Before You), Adrift shares the story of two sailors who sail directly into Hurricane Raymond in 1983 on a delivery passage on a 44-foot-yacht traveling from Tahiti to San Diego. Lost at sea for over a month, Adrift mixes YA romance with Cast Away and The Perfect Storm and the result is better than expected thanks to a committed performance from Woodley and exactly what you’d expect from Claflin who is perfecting the hunky supporting love interest role. The scenes at sea are realistic and the flashbacks add some emotional heft that might not do much for those who tuned in just to watch a survival odyssey but most of the audience will be just as interested in their backstory as they are how harrowing 41 days at sea with little hope in sight would be.
There’s a danger with audiences for Adrift as it tries to balance a romance with catastrophe and could lose audiences who are only interested in one or the other and either tale could work on its own in some way. There’s a theme of empowerment here, too, as Tami’s tale is one of strength and independence and, when the chips are down, powerful determination in the face of desperate times with Woodley the perfect choice to star in such a role. Those similar traits were ever-present in her role in The Divergent series but lacked the storyline to give her the right platform to showcase her talent. Claflin’s work in a supporting role, much like in Me Before You, brings out the best in his love interest (it was Emilia Clarke in Me Before You) yet again and will likely land him more similar roles in the near future.
Whether or not to see Adrift might depend on how much you’re willing to watch a divergent tale of romance and catastrophe. It’s more a catastrophic tale of survival than romance, though, which might be it’s ultimate demise at the box office as the film relies more heavily on the survival tale than the romance which might disappoint the female targeted audience while alienating the male audience that might not be willing to spend any time on the romantic spin. This true story deserves it’s spot on the big screen and there’s plenty here for any audience to enjoy. Too bad it’ll likely capsize in the tidal wave of big budget summer tentpoles and have to find it’s audience once it hits the home video market later this year.
You loved Woodley in The Fault In Our Stars and felt she deserved better than The Divergent series has given her to work with.
You’re a land lover.