Adrift: Film Review

Shailene Woodley proved she was a great actress when she found fame with her breakthrough role in The Descendants (although she’d been around much longer) but I almost forgot about her talent thanks to the woeful Divergent franchise. With Big Little Lies and now Adrift, Woodley reminds us how capable she is of putting on a truly impressive performance.

She plays the real-life Tami Oldham, who is living in Tahiti when an older British guy named Richard (Sam Claflin) sails in and they embark on a serious romance, plotting to sail around the word together in his boat. However, Richard is asked by acquaintances to sail back to California for a sweet sum of money and Tami comes along for the adventure. Their journey hits a snag when they encounter Hurricane Raymond and their boat is wrecked, leaving them stranded at sea miles away from land.

The film is fine but Woodley completely elevates it and makes it more moving and engrossing. They are billed as co-leads, but this is her film and she steals every single scene and carries the movie. Tami suffers mentally and physically on the boat and Woodley navigates these well and makes you care about Tami’s survival. Claflin isn’t given as much to do and is lumbered with a lot of cheesy lines (there are many). I’ve never really rated his acting skills anyway and Adrift does little to change that.

I love a survival film but there have been a lot of the ‘stranded at sea’ variety in recent years, with February’s The Mercy springing to mind. Adrift is an interesting watch but doesn’t really stand out among these as it feels quite similar to them. It follows a similar narrative structure too, cutting back and forth between the present day boat chaos and how they meet, their romance etc.

The script isn’t the strongest and it seemed to try very hard to establish how deep their love was for each other after a short space of time across short flashback scenes so the lines are a bit cheesy at times, particularly with Richard. The film also felt a little too long – I know the journey to Hawaii was far, but damn, a few scenes could have definitely been chopped. My interest perked up again with the twist, which some may find cheap or predictable, but I didn’t see it coming and I found it moving and exciting. It grabbed my attention again.

Adrift tells a touching inspirational real life story that needed some script and editing improvements, but is still moving and captivating and boasts a nomination-worthy performance by Woodley (but she won’t get it). Advice: do not Google the story beforehand, it will rob you of the twist.

In cinemas Friday 29th June 

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