The new drama offers Adrift combines the elements of a romantic drama with the allure of a survival film. The film stars Shailene Woodley and Sam Chaflin as a young couple who get caught up in a storm that leaves them clinging to life.
Based on a true story, Shailene Woodley stars as Tami Oldham. Tami lives a carefree life, far away from her family. When she encounters Richard Sharp (Sam Chaflin), a young sailor, she begins a charming romance with him. The duo start dating and she eventually decides to join him on a sailing adventure across the ocean.
Their voyage is forever changed when a horrendous storm ravages their ship. Their disabled boat is sent off-course and leaves the couple isolated in the vast ocean.
As the characters struggle to survive, the feature oftentimes flashes back to their budding romance capturing their first moments together. In this way, the film feels like it’s telling two separate stories: one of young love and the other of survival.
In the story of young love, the screenplay by Aaron Kendell, Jordan Kendell and David Branson Smith keeps the attraction between the duo front and center. There’s a charming chemistry between the two leads and it’s refreshing to see them coming together without clichéd obstacles coming in their way. The romance is more natural because of that.
The other half of the feature focuses more on the story of the young couple trying to survive on limited resources. During this period, Oldham’s character is the primary focus because Sharp suffered life-threatening injuring during the storm. Oldham is forced to survive for a long period of time while caring for Sharp, who can barely move.
Although these scenes are compelling, the scenes aboard the boat do feature some obvious weaknesses. At times, it feels like Woodley is trying too hard to carry the film and there are some moments where she seems to be over-reaching in her performance. When given the right material (in films like The Fault in Our Stars or The Descendants), Woodley offers a natural ease in her performance. But here, some of the emotional moments don’t work as well as they could.
It also doesn’t help that some of the action sequences here — and there are a few related to the storm — are overly reliant on special effects. Because of that, the film loses some of its emotional depth. With a limited budget, it is hard to feature great effects but when they don’t look real, it’s hard to keep engaged in the story.
Overall, though, the film works well enough as a romantic drama. The relationship between the two main characters is built steadily enough, allowing the two leads to shine through in the flashback scenes. Because the scenes of turmoil on the water are intercut with earlier romantic scenes, the plot steadily moves along.
Director Baltasar Kormákur, who previously helmed 2 Guns and Everest, balances the characters well enough with the action but there are some elements here that slow this new film’s momentum down.
Review by: John Hanlon