Adrift Review - Four Stars For At Sea Survival Story

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Adrift, from STX Entertainment and Huayi Brothers, presents the true story of two strangers who through fate happen to meet in Fiji after each sailed around the world and together found love, beauty, adventure and unbelievable tragedy.

Directed by Baltasar Kormakur Adrift stars Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Grace Palmer, Jeffrey Thomas and Elizabeth Hawthorne, and actual survivor Tami Ashcraft. Adrift was written by Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell and David Branson Smith and based on the book written by Tami Oldham Ashcraft.

Adrift opens at the critical moment when nature has taken out its fury on two undeserving and unsuspecting souls as we see a man, in yellow slicker rain suit, slowly sinking. The screen is filled with items sinking beside him. The mast, oddly, upside down pointing toward the sea floor is visible.


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The camera moves upward to more items floating and then we are inside the hull of a boat where a women, whom we have yet to meet is waking. Bloodied from a head wound, she is lying in about 18 inches of water.

Crawling through the skylight, she stands on the deck in shock as she emerges surveying a scene of idyllic calm and massive destruction, the proverbial calm after the storm. The sail boat has lost both masts with one connected, lying broken over the side, by rope. Unable find her mate, she pulls the rope that he had tethered himself in case. Nothing. She finally screams out one name, Richard.

The camera pulls back to reveal a single limping boat in a vast sea, a needle in a haystack, with an impossibile search area the realization of fate takes over.

Adrift begins at this moment and then digresses to fill in the gaps of how this women ends up in the middle of the ocean, on the wreckage of a sail boat, alone.

We meet Tami, played by Shailene Woodley, as she arrives in the port of Fiji. Stopping at customs, the agent played by Siale Tunoka, asks her the usual questions and her free spirit is noticeable immediately as her answers show a wanderer’s spirit, the willingness to travel until the soul is satisfied and to too follow the way the wind draws.

On the next day, a beautiful boat sails into the harbor and Tami and a Kiwi Deb, played by Grace Palmer, already working for the harbor master, greet the newcomer. By the time he moors, we find out he is Richard, played by Sam Claflin, and Tami has caught his attention.

Being a good neighborly sailor, Tami find a reason to head over to Richard’s 36 foot sailboat, Mayaluga, and soon the two are talking, having dinner, and finding each other really interesting. She, at 24, still has reservations about her sailing skills and he at 33, essentially pronounces them as they are, not as she sees them.

Soon they are inseparable, and as she takes the helm she is at home. Together, it seemed as if in the infinite possibilities of meeting these two had found each other.

Richard was well known, having built his boat and sailed the world. Soon, an elderly couple, he knew from many a port, who had sailed from California to Fiji had to return unexpectedly and asked him to sail their boat, the 44 foot Hazana back to San Diego. It was a nice paying gig and seemed the perfect romantic adventure.

As we know Adrift is based on a true story of survival, this romantic adventure lasted for a few weeks as they began to sail the vast pacific ocean. As fate would have it a late season Hurricane, Raymond, which would be upgraded to a category five was bearing down on them producing walls of waves as high as a five story building and winds of 140-knots.

Adrift is a both traumatic and  distressing and passionate story with both sides the placid, tranquil moments of skimming across the water, with sunny days, romantic nights, tropical beauty, and violent abusive walls of water, with shocking intensity, pounding against the boat, a storm who refuses to die, futures ripped away in an instant.


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This film held my attention from the beginning, each side of the time they had together was recreated to portray the freedom to be, to live and enjoy the moment.

Filmed entirely in Fiji and New Zealand. The "set" location were what they appear, 25 miles out to sea, and as some can experience, the seasickness of rolling waves was common among cast and crew. The massive waves from Hurricane Raymond were created in a sound stage.

Adrift is filmed in such a way as it deconstructs the pivotal point and moves backward to fill in the blanks. We see wo people who did nothing reckless. Cautious sailors, they both prepared and in 1983 when the events occurred there wasn’t the advancements in technology, GPS, and other safety and connected technologies. Which make the ending even more stunning.

Exceptionally filmed and superbly acted. The first real Oscar contender of the year Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin have created magical chemistry. Adrift is a masterpiece!

A four star thriller! Adrift opens June 1, 2018. See this film. It tells a beautiful, emotional, shocking, harrowing true story of survival against all odds.

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