'Adrift' - Review - Chris At The Pictures

Thursday, 5 July 2018

'Adrift' - Review

★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

Two great performances keep Baltasar Kormákur’s latest disaster drama resolutely afloat: Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin star as real-life couple Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp, whose voyage from Tahiti to San Diego in 1983 took them directly into the path of Hurricane Raymond. The film plays out in a split time-frame, beginning with Tami waking aboard the wrecked vessel, before flashing back to detail their romance, and leading towards a dual finale.

This narrative structure - in sharp opposition to the linear unravelling of Kormákur’s previous film, Everest - contrasts the sun-kissed days of Tami and Richard’s growing connection against the survival thriller of Raymond’s aftermath. Turning up the cheese to reinforce the grit, it results in an incredibly effective sense of gnawing inevitability, always keeping us one match cut away from tragedy.

Woodley has grown a lot as a performer since the Divergent series that made her the household name of teenage audiences (even in rocky fare like Oliver Stone’s Snowden, she acquits herself well), and here she’s as steadfast as we’ve ever seen her. Her performance walks an impressive line between Sandra Bullock in Gravity and - strangely - Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games series: there’s that same grounded aura of rags-to-resolve as Tami deals with the devastation.

Claflin, too, is excellent. His endless charisma is a valuable asset during the scenes of seaborne young love (i.e. he looks good sailing into port with his shirt hanging open), and his ability to switch from wry humour to wan acceptance sees us through the darker moments. Richard was originally to be played by Miles Teller, and (no offence to Teller) I think the film owes a debt of thanks to those “scheduling conflicts”.

What small amount of artistic liberty the film takes is all to do with pathos, as opposed to narrative neatness. As the remainder pays attention rather than lip service to reality (its approach to the logistics of finding oneself shipwrecked would make for a fine double bill with All Is Lost), small fictional reveries can be forgiven. Adrift may not be a note-perfect depiction of a true event, but as a showcase for two stars at the top of their game; it hits all the right ones.

1 comment: