Keep Afloat with Shailene Woodley in Adrift

Image Courtesy of STX Entertainment

Image Courtesy of STX Entertainment

Three years after Everest, Director Baltasar Kormakur’s latest movie is another real-life-based adventure tale. While the proceedings in Everest brings a team of six climbers to a fight for their lives, in Adrift, Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) gives hope for a better outcome when she successfully rebuilds mast and sail in a barely floating boat. All this effort is driven by the need to save her love, Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin).

This movie is based on the true story of Tami Oldham, a 24-year-old globetrotter from San Diego who meets and falls in love with Richard Sharp, an English sailor, in Tahiti. The experienced sailor is on a mission to bring back 44-foot yacht called Hazana to the owners in San Diego while facing the rage of 1983’s formidable Hurricane Raymond that will wreak their future.

The film opens with the young Tami (Woodley) regaining consciousness, bloodied and nearly shipwrecked. She struggles to get out of the flooded lower deck, hindered by an obstructed door. She calls out for Richard, who is nowhere near the boat. Finding him becomes her ultimate obsession. Tearful and frustrated, the missing dinghy suddenly gives Tami a sliver of hope, turning her blues into an energized search for her beau. 

Flashbacks within the film help introduce the two young, adventurous free spirits who inevitably fall for each other and decide on traveling together. The use of flashbacks in the movie not only gives the backstory on their pre-disaster lives but also helps relieve fears of potentially long, boring scenes cynical viewers might expect from a slow-paced, high stakes survival picture.

For the more sensitive folk, a scene where Woodley’s character stitches a gash on her forehead may be hard to stomach, but may hopefully stir them to question whether they would have the will to also do the same when fighting for survival. Another point in the film is Woodley’s vegetarian convictions, which are highlighted when she begins to consider catching and eating raw fish to quench her hunger.

Woodley’s portrayal of a real vulnerable woman, free of superhero cliches and added effects, helps bolster her basic humanity and instincts to survive in a desperate situation. The films add to a series of similar survival tales led by men like Cast Away (with Tom Hanks) or All Is Lost (with Robert Redford).

This tale is entertaining and suspenseful, as it keeps you on the edge of discovering what other obstacles the ocean will make Tami face. With her fears and instinct to survive on full display, there is no lack of emotion during the feature, with a shocking revelation towards the end of the movie.