Growing up in Florida, every now and then some friends and I would get the opportunity to grab some beverages and head out into the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy a day on the water. I can’t tell you how many times I lay on board, sunning myself and thinking, “I could do this forever – I never want to go back.” Well, that kind-of happened in real life to Tami Oldham and a friend and believe me, from now on I’m strictly a one-day sailor!
Based on the true story of Tami, who spent over a month out at sea, ADRIFT is a film that, literally, has nowhere to go. We meet Tami (Woodley) and Richard (Claflin), two handsome young people who meet cute, fall and love and plan to marry. Things are going just fine, thank you, when they are asked by Richard’s friends if they will sail their boat to San Diego for them. Having already planned a honeymoon cruise around the world, the two – with the promise of money and plane tickets waiting at the end of the journey – agree.
Sadly, they did not count on the horrible weather that awaits them. Their boat destroyed to the point of it just being a floating piece of wood, they are forced to travel through a hurricane, which leaves them low on supplies and injured – in Richard’s case, severely. Finding themselves literally alone in the ocean, Tami does what she can to help them survive.
Though it features a great performance by Shailene Woodley, ADRIFT is true to its title in many other ways, mostly pacing. As the makers of SPEED 2 will attest, it’s hard to keep a movie going when the majority of the story takes place on a boat. Give extra credit to the career of Steven Spielberg for pulling it off with JAWS. Here the basic plot point is: SAIL. CATASTROPHE. REPEAT. The passing of time is marked with occasional title-card, slowly marking each day. Give extra credit to Woodley for doing her best to look as sun-weathered and beaten down as possible. I can’t think of too many actresses that would permit themselves to be presented in such a realistic, yet harrowing, condition.
Technically the film is fine, with the ocean, when it’s not trying to kill our stars, providing a beautiful backdrop to what should have been an amazing trip. Director Kormukur, who also helmed the similar survive-as-best-you-can themed film EVEREST sets up some fine shots with the help of his director of photography and, while the film does not move along as smoothly as you’d hope, he does what he can to make sure it doesn’t screech to a halt. I almost wrote that he does what he can to keep the film afloat but thought better of it. Did you see what I did there?
If you’ve ever thought about taking an extended cruise I’d recommend you watch ADRIFT first. Or “Gilligan’s Island.” A lot can happen in three hours’ time, much less a month, on the water.
Video: The film is presented in its original 2:39.1 aspect ratio and looks great. Every bit of nature, the good and the bad, jumps off the screen.
Audio: The audio is in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and is well recorded. From the quiet sounds of waves slapping against a boat to the howling hurricane winds, you don’t miss a thing.
Audio Commentary with Baltasar Kormakur and Shailene Woodley
Deleted Scenes (2:33): Two short scenes, nothing worth missing
Survival at Sea (2:21): A look at the relationship between Richard and Tami
Braving the Elements (2:23): The troubles of filming on the sea.
Journey (2:02): A short action montage.