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Movie Review: Aptly Titled "Adrift" Floats Aimlessly

Starring Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Thomas, Elizabeth Hawthorne
Red Sky at Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea
by Tami Oldham Ashcraft and Susea McGearhart

Screenplay by Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell and David Branson Smith
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur

Reviewed by Patrick & Paul Gibbs
Image result for images of two star ratings Out of Four

We are definitely reaching the point in the summer where something more real world based and less dependant on CGI would be a welcome change. A strong performance piece with engaging characters would be just the ticket. That fact makes Adrift all the more disappointing.

The film is based on the true story of two avid sailors, Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp, who set out on a journey across the ocean in 1983 and sailed directly into a hurricane. The movie uses an unconventional story structure, starting with Tami (Shailene Woodley) and Richard (Sam Claflin) already adrift after the accident, and cuts back and forth between their survival story (in the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to find Richard badly injured and their boat in ruins, and has to find a way to save them both) and the events leading up to their predicament, including their meeting and falling in love.  

You can fix the boat, but the movie still don't won't stay afloat.
(Images Courtest STX Films)

If the commitment to low key realism is the film's biggest strength, then easily its biggest weakness is in Woodley and Claflin's lack of powerful screen presence. Both are capable enough actors, but  both have done their best work as part of of ensemble, and frankly neither one can carry a film. The relationship between them never comes close to be as involving as the one between Tom Hanks and his volleyball, Wilson, in Cast Away, and this effectively kills the film. Woodley's limited abilities with expressiveness and her often flat delivery prevent us from connecting with her character and feeling the tenacity and spirit needed for Tami; in the end, she comes off as a dull, whiny teen. Claflin's Richard is effectively sweet and not without some degree of charm, but he comes off as that nice and attractive guy that treats you well but somehow you still just aren't feeling it and are getting ready to break up with him, and he is never quite able to hook us into caring about him beyond just the basic premise of being a carbon based life form. No true life romance story should give you the nagging feeling that both of these people could probably do better.

Nicely shot fishing scenes still don't distract from the feeling that neither of our romantic leads is much of a catch.
(Images Courtesy STX Films)
Director Baltasar Kormákur gives us some very capable staging at sea, and when the two parts of the story finally collide, the sequence is expertly done. But he can't keep the movie interesting on land, and seems a bit lost at sea in any scene where he can't indulge himself with constant water level shots.

When all is said and done, Adrift is not even close to being one of the worst films of the year, but it may be one of the most forgettable.

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