Main cast: Shailene Woodley (Tami Oldham), Sam Claflin (Richard Sharp), Jeffrey Thomas (Peter), and Elizabeth Hawthorne (Christine)
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Adrift is marketed as a romantic drama in my part of the world, but there is clearly a tragedy in the heart of this movie. Never mind, Titanic was pretty romantic too, especially considering how many people died in that movie. But that’s the problem with this movie in a nutshell. The publicity material is setting this movie up to the tearjerker of the ages, but director Baltasar Kormákur is far more interested in serving up another of his man, or in this case, woman against nature flick. It is as if the marketing people, upon seeing the final cut, realized that this movie would bomb unless they go all brazenly balls out and try to sell this one as, well, a Titanic of sorts.
Based loosely on the real Tami Oldham’s autobiography, this one portrays Tami as this carefree lady who only wants to travel the world. Responsibilities, permanence… what’s that? She just goes where she pleases, takes up odd jobs to finance her trip to the next place with sand, sun, and surf… and eventually, her path crosses with that of Richard Sharp, a much older man who nonetheless shares her sense of wanderlust. They soon quickly exchange sickly sweet words, and embark on what is supposed to be a simple trip of sailing a yacht from Tahiti to its new owners in San Diego. Once done, they will get $10,000 enough to finance their sojourns for the coming year or so.
Well, it turns out that all that squeezing and cuddling plus all the doves landing in front of them are just the calm before the literal storm. A really bad storm hits them while they are crossing the Pacific Ocean. Richard is badly wounded, and it is up to Tami to somehow find a way to keep them and a badly damaged yacht afloat. Maybe, maybe they will make it out if this okay. Maybe…
Given that the real Tami survived to write her story, it’s obvious from the start that she is going to survive the ordeal. The suspense, therefore, lies in whether Richard will. Frankly, and I’m probably going to come off as very callous in saying this, I can’t be arsed to care, because of two reasons. One, Sam Claflin and Shailene Woodley are a mismatched couple – they have little believable chemistry as two people in love. Two, the script seems to be written by people who don’t really like writing romantic moments, but are forced to anyway, because the “romance” is flat and filled with cheesy lines, and the two main characters may as well as be two planks with smiling faces pasted on one side, given how little depth and personality they each display in this movie. This story is, basically, two carefree, good-looking people who get screwed really badly by the climate, and I don’t give a damn about their story because the story is flat.
Still, Ms Woodley puts on a valiant fight during her woman against nature scenes (Mr Claflin has the thankless role of playing the deadweight in this movie), which is why I said earlier that the heart and soul of the people involved in this movie are really in such scenes. They probably had to force themselves to write and film the romantic flashback moments in this movie. Which leads me to the question: why not just cut out the guy and make this solely about a woman versus nature story? I suspect that that particular version of Adrift will feel more heartfelt and sincere than this one.