Adrift (I) (2018)
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After Spielberg finished Jaws, he told anyone that would listen, to never film on the open sea, ever. The elements, the waves, the weather and everything in between basically cause chaos. Director Baltasar Kormakur did not take heed to that warning and the result is something magical. To get the feeling of complete isolation, the cast and crew would sail out 2 hours from land to film. Kormakur is an experienced sailor and I'm sure that came in handy during filming. Half of the movie takes place on the open water and slowly but surely you see the two characters start to fade. They haven't given up hope but they are 1500 miles from land, have little food and little water. How Tammy and Richard survived 41 days on their own is a miracle. Tammy had to do it all. Take care of Richard, keep the boat afloat, catch food, make shelters and so on. There were times when she was in tears and close to going crazy, but she kept going, incredibly reaching Hawaii. She was not the experienced sailor, that was Richard. That makes it all the more incredible.
There's one big plot twist and I will not reveal that here. If you know nothing about the story, keep it that way. Go in blind. It'll work so much better for you.
Shaileen owns the movie. She's simply a rock. Her range of emotions are incredible and she has to carry the film most of the way. Claflin is good too but Woodley has much more to do. I simply love her performance and I really hope she gets a nomination this year. She's simply brilliant.
I loved the movie.
Tami Oldham (Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Shailene Woodley) is a single 24-year-old adventurer, originally from San Diego, who works her way from place to place on a worldwide voyage of self-discovery. As the film opens, she gets off a boat in Tahiti and responds to the custom agent's questions by admitting she doesn't have an occupation or any idea how long she'll be staying in the country. In spite of her apparent aimlessness, she gets her passport stamped and starts working at the docks doing maintenance on various pleasure craft. That's where she meets the handsome and charming Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), who is in the process of sailing around the world on a journey similar to Tami's.
Tami and Richard are well on their way to falling in love when a wealthy older couple ask Richard to sail their yacht to San Diego, in exchange for $10,000 and a First Class airline ticket back to Tahiti. Make that two First Class tickets. Tami says she's not ready to go home yet, but she doesn't want to be separated from her new love, so she comes along for the ride... and, as a novice sailor herself, to help out where she can. Unfortunately for the young lovers, they get caught up in a monster storm at sea that damages the boat - and each of them - severely. The best solution seems to be allowing the prevailing currents to carry the boat east, try to navigate towards Hawaii - and try to survive long enough to get there.
"Adrift" is this film's title, but the story is anything but. Appearing in flashbacks, the story of Tami and Richard is told parallel with the story of the journey to Hawaii. It's an especially effective plot device in this intelligent screenplay. The two leads are each first class actors who play their roles expertly and with undeniable chemistry. This film compares well with Robert Redford's "All is Lost" and Tom Hanks' "Cast Away", with the added allure of the romance and the strong foundation of being a true story. "A-"
This realistic, suspenseful and romantic, true story it's not quite as exciting as watching Blake Lively fighting against sharks in "The Shallows" from two summers ago, but there's still enough of interest to keep the new nautical drama "Adrift" afloat. And of course it is always refreshing to see a film where a female protagonist isn't passively waiting for a rescue. Overall it is an entertaining film with a solid dramatization of real events.
Right from the opening sequence, Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur has his cinematographer Robert Richardson photograph a long tracking shot of Shailene Woodley splashing about in the cabin of a waterlogged sailboat looking for her fiancee and trying to get her bearings. As she emerges from down below, Richardson continues the shot with an invisible wipe of an ocean wave above the boat before Woodley realizes her boyfriend is missing. The breathtaking sequence sets the pace for what is an amazingly rich tapestry of photographic wonders.
One other particularly unusual shot is when Ms. Woodley dives into a river from a cliff while her boyfriend Sam Claflin is concerned about her well-being when she doesn't come out of the water. Richardson's camera parallels him as he leaps from the cliff, following him into the water and continuing underneath the water's surface until he finds Woodley alive.
Those two shots alone are worth the price of admission. Never mind that the story is riveting, despite some sequences where landlubbers would consider slow at times. Otherwise, Adrift should get at least an Academy Award nomination for cinematography--it is that good.
- There is zero chemistry between the leads. Absolutely soulless writing. The characters have no quirks, depth, idiosyncracies, anxieties, neuroses, anything that would resemble a human being. They both talk like their lines were written by a 15 year old writing a very self-conscious romance, trying to impress their teacher. Sam Claflin plays his usual sociopathic-seeming emotionally-flat charmer, every line delivered like an arrogant banker impersonating 90s Hugh Grant. Its impossible to care at all about these people - I wanted them to suffer badly and was annoyed that sharks or dismemberment didn't happen. Anything you read about squeamish survival scenes is a lie - its a 12 certificate.
- The structure... oh God the structure. It flashes back and forward with no obvious purpose, succeeding to kill any emotional investment its attempting to build. There is a major scene towards the end akin to the space-station exploding at the start of Gravity which sets off the 'current' events of the film (with the same 'drifting' thing), yet rather than begin with it like Gravity did (creating an "oh no!" moment to raise tension/suspense for what follows), it simpers up to it - then kills it with more flashbacks and...
- The most unnecessary, forced twist you could imagine. Once its revealed, it contradicts the emotional tone of the scene by giving a few MORE little flashbacks to reframe what you'd seen before - think Fight Club, The Usual Suspects, or Red Sparrow - fine for those kinds of films, where the writer is saying "hehe, eh? You Like that?" to the audience, but NOT a true-story survival film like this! It didn't happen! Its the writer forcing a way to make the dull story be more watchable, but is completely fake and nasty. It made me so angry how contrived it was, and how much it gloated in its own pathetic idea.
- Unfortunately, and no disrespect to Tami, but the true story really isn't that interesting. The Donald Crowhurst story (watch the film Crowhurst, or The Mercy) is far more interesting for its psychological depth, the inner turmoils of Crowhurst and how his decisions slide into a downward spiral. Here you just have an unfortunate tragedy followed by a few weeks of survival. Its no wonder the writer had to shoe-horn a horrible, fake way of livening up the screentime, giving us two characters rather than the one and endless flashbacks of two dull people flirting around bars at night.
- When you see the photos of the real people at the end of the film (that inevitable, contrived way of every true story film these days to try and wring a few tears from the audience) you'll immediately realise just how 'off' the film was in its portrayal. Your imagination of how it really was will be a much better movie than the one you just saw.
- The song that plays to the schmaltzy final scenes of whimsical guffery is such a bad choice, its almost satirical.
You'll wish you were watching The Beach, or 147 Hours, heck you'll even wish you were watching Titanic its that bad.
If you're 14 years old, you might enjoy it, especially if you enjoyed Me Before You. Anyone else should stay well away. Absolute waste of a trip to the cinema.
"Adrift" is a good film with a story of love and survival. Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin show great chemistry and wonderful performances. The screenplay entwining past and present keeps the interest in the film until the very end with an unexpected plot point. The direction and the special effects are magnificent, giving the sensation that the sailing ship is crossing a storm indeed. The camera work is also impressive shooting in small spaces with perfect edition. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Vidas à Deriva" ("Adrift Lives")
In the glorious surroundings of Tahiti, the American footloose traveller Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley, "Divergent trilogy", "The Descendents) meets British footloose traveller Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin, "Journey's End", "Me Before You") and a nautical-based love beckons. Richard is hired by his friends Peter (Jeffrey Thomas) and Christine (Elizabeth Hawthorne) to sail their luxury 44 foot yacht Hazana from Tahiti to Tami's home city of San Diego. But they hadn't reckoned on the decidedly un-romantic attentions of Raymond and severely battered and bruised it's a battle for survival on the vast expanse of the Pacific.
As a story with romantic undertones, the film will live or die on your belief in this aspect. And fortunately the romance works. There is real chemistry between the pair despite them striking you as an odd couple. This is in no small part to the quality of the acting: Claflin proves again that he is a safe pair of hands as a male lead, but it's Shailene Woodley, who has to carry large portions of the film single-handedly, who again demonstrates just how excellent an actress she is. The camera of Tarentino favourite Robert Richardson ("The Hateful Eight", "Django Unchained") stays tightly on Woodley's features dramatically capturing her tiniest of grimaces.
Woodley is also deliciously un-Hollywood, getting to where she has through acting talent as much as her looks. Yes, she has a great body (liberally, perhaps a tad lasciviously, featured here both above and under the water) but her face is gloriously assymettical with little wrinkles appearing unexpectedly when she grins. She's a good role model for young girls that perfection is not a pre-requisite for success.
It's also interesting to note that the 27-year old Woodley is also a co-producer on the film, a sign perhaps that as well as being the 'Meryl Streep of the future'(TM), she is also likely to become a significant mover and shaker in Hollywood when getting there.
A bit like "The Shallows", it's unapologetically a B movie, but it's delivered with such style and chutzpah that it drives its way through the apallingly cheesy dialogue just as the poor Hazana bashes its way throught the mountainous seas. It's even self-mocking, with Tami rolling her eyes at the corniness of Richard's, very English, attempts at romantic dialogue. The script is more successful in establishing back-stories for Tami and Richard, demonstrating a degree of parallelism that perhaps better explains their mutual attraction. The irony of fate taking Tami back to her damaged past is exquisite.
A controversial and brave decision by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur is to constantly flashback between the survival scenes and Tami and Richard's courtship that leads up to the cataclismic event. This can be a little distracting, but given the gut-wrenching twist in the third act a linear storytelling would simply have not worked. It's very well done too, with matched cross-cuts that really work well. Kormákur's previous film "Everest" was his biggest hit to date, and I noted the cheeky addition of the book "Everest" on the bookshelf on Richard's boat!
Extraordinarily, it's a true story with the closing frames of the film being genuinely moving.
With many similarities to the excellent Robert Redford thriller "All Is Lost", this is a robust and enthralling thriller-cum-romance that unusually delivers on both counts. The romance is believable and the thrills suitably thrilling, especially when a panic-ridden Tami is separated from her one patch of dry land. Although slightly let down by some dodgy dialogue, sitting amongst all the big-hitter summer blockbusters this is a movie you should definitely seek out.
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