Adrift

ADRIFT,  US, 2018.  Starring Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin. Directed by Baltazar Kormakur. 96 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes and coarse language).

The title is very plain. This is a film about a battered yacht adrift in the northern Pacific Ocean. There have been a number of films in the adrift brain, about a decade ago several with people drifting in danger of shark attacks. In more recent times, Robert Redford was All at Sea, and Colin Firth was attempting a round the world record in Mercy.

This time the person adrift is Shailene Woodley, Tami Oldham, who does appear as herself at the end of the film, the film based on a true story.

Tami had a hard upbringing in San Diego but left home and became a very happy-go-lucky young woman, happily drifting around the world from temporary job to temporary job, finding herself in Tahiti. However, the film opens with the disaster for the yacht, her coming to consciousness, and searching for her partner, Richard Sharp, played by Sam Claflin.

The film goes into flashback, establishing Tami’s character, her chance meeting with Richard, their enjoying each other’s company, a growing bond, falling in love – shown with quite some tenderness.

The structure of the film is that it keeps moving backwards and forwards, keeping the tension about the yacht being adrift in balance with the background story and the romance.

Richard is asked by a wealthy couple to sail their yacht to the United States and he agrees, especially with Tami as his partner.

It is only at the end of the film that we actually see the vast storm that wrecks the yacht. In the meantime, we have very strong leading character, a strong female character at sea, with the physical strain, the psychological strain, the emotional strain that keeps her going for more than 40 days adrift. But, she is sustained by her relationship with Richard, her working with him, her caring for him.

Stories about people adrift at sea may not have a great appeal to non-sailors. However, Icelandic Dir Baltazar Kormakur retains the tension between the past and the present, has great admiration for Tami and her story.

Roadshow                    Released June 28.

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.


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