Plot: Tami (Shailene Woodley) has left home to explore the world and by turn, herself, with no real plan or schedule in mind. She knows she doesn’t want to return home, but she is open to new experiences, which is how she ended up working at a marina in beautiful Tahiti. There she meets Richard (Sam Claflin) and two spark an instant bond that leads them to spend time together, eventually forging a kind of free spirited relationship of sorts. When Richard is hired to sail a yacht across the world, Tami agrees to join him and on the plus vessel, the two embark on an intense romance and grow much closer. But when a powerful storm threatens to bear down on their location, romance turns into a battle for survival.
Entertainment Value: As a survival at sea experience, Adrift has some solid moments and effective atmosphere, but as a romance, it washes out and leaves behind little to no impression. The movie also uses a series of time shifts to unfold the narrative, which is sometimes effective, but some of the flashbacks aren’t smooth or consistent, which throws off the film’s flow. So between a slow pace to begin with and the not always skilled flashback shifts, Adrift is quite disjointed and never establishes a proper cadence to connect with. On the plus side, Shailene Woodley turns in a solid effort and the survival aspect is well crafted. The storm in specific is impressive, with some great visuals and the atmosphere as desperation sets in is effective, so those moments carry the movie. But then the flashbacks strike again, force feeding this poorly constructed romance between two leads who have no real chemistry, so it is hard to see it as some kind of romance for the ages. But if you appreciate real life stories of survival, you could do worse than Adrift.
While the script doesn’t give her much to work with, Shailene Woodley puts in some great work here and elevates the survival elements. She is also good as the free spirit floating through life, but she ups her game once things get dark and conveys the will to live better than I ever expected. I liked how she was able to bring across the strong sense of desperation, but didn’t go over the top, which would have been easy to do, especially with the mental breakdown involved. She proves her dramatic chops here, I just wish she was surrounded by elements that were just as strong. Instead, she is the highlight here and while Sam Claflin isn’t bad, he is rather bland and forgettable, with little chemistry between the two. Aside from Woodley, the only other noteworthy presence would be the storm itself, which feels believable and the movie’s authentic on the open water feel is remarkable. So there’s some positives here, just not enough to earn a strong recommendation.