Based on a true story from the late 1970’s, Adrift tells an incredible story of a woman battling the forces of nature in the most desolate of environments. The ever competent Shailene Woodley (Divergent series) stars as sailor Tami Oldham, who falls in love with fellow sailor Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) while traveling the world. When an older couple offers Richard ten thousand dollars to sail their boat to San Diego for them, Tami agrees to accompany him on a voyage across the Pacific. As the two set out on their adventure of a lifetime, they are in love and excited about what the future holds.
However, they could never predict sailing directly into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in all of recorded history. After their boat is badly mangled by the storm, Tami awakes to find herself alone. Rescuing a badly injured Richard becomes both a blessing and curse, and she now faces an open ocean and limited resources that are quickly running out. Determined to survive this ordeal, Tami must ration their food and water, charting out the best course to find land while contending with an ailing Richard. What starts as an exciting adventure quickly escalates into an epic journey of love and strength of spirit that few will ever know.
An inspiring account of what it means to be a survivor amidst the worst odds, Adrift is shot entirely in open water to give both cast and audiences a more tangible sense of the situation and its urgency. Despite the hardships of filming in an unpredictable environment, resulting in a true masterpiece comparable to Tom Hanks’ Castaway – except Adrift has a twist ending that no one sees coming and is sure to bring the waterworks. No spoilers from me.
Director Baltasar Kormakur used all of this to his advantage when showing how this incredible story unfolds on the big screen. He takes full advantage of every available lenses, the cinematography is mesmerizing, giving the audience a complete grasp of not only of the limitations characters are dealing with, but the vast endlessness of their desperation.
Woodley’s performance in this film will be talked about, as her emotions and character truly come to life on the big screen. Playing a vegetarian, her struggle with the idea of having to kill a fish with a spear to prevent starvation is both palpable and admirable. As is her storytelling when she plays the guitar and later finds a jar of peanut butter, two highs that the audience shares with Tami amid all the lows and tribulations the two survivors endure on the barely afloat sailboat that must travel thousands of miles if it is to reach shore.
Claflin’s character, Richard, is a fun loving guy that’s easy to fall for and most would follow him to the ends of the earth, if only to share in his light and joyful energy. Despite his serious injuries and lack of mobility after the storm, Claflin brings Richard to life and make him an integral part of not just the story, but also the boat itself. He is a constant and guiding energy for Tami, who relies on him for support and direction as she struggles in her decisions on how best to keep them alive. Plagued by exhaustion, hallucinations and the hardships of life in a leaking boat on the open sea, Tami clings to Richard and to the unwavering hope that they will survive.
For many, the open ocean holds the answers to secrets that are yet to be discovered, but what Tami found was something more meaningful than any treasure. This trip of a lifetime lead to a mission of survival, self-discovery and a kind of emotional and psychological growth that can only be experienced under incredible duress and pressure. The human instinct to survive has kept many lost at sea from succumbing to their fate, but Adrift takes it one step further, showing that in an epic battle with nature, love can make all the difference.