From director Baltasar Kormákur, the director of the visually stunning “Everest” and the frantically fun 2 Guns, comes Adrift. Starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin, the film is a traditional survival story with a sense of extensive pressure built into the direction - following the characters’ and nature’s actions with every camera shift. Adrift is a visual adventure, filled with creative direction, and great performances, yet falls short with the film’s weak cliche ‘True Story lost at sea’ script.
Baltasar Kormákur brings his creative talents into the world of these stranded sailors, in resemblance of his previous effort Everest. The film follows the characters actions and the harsh reality that is the rough waters outside their vessel. When the action takes place, it is presented in a way to create a sense of nausea and Kormákur succeeds. The beautifully executed wide shots of the ship on the open waters really give a sense of hopelessness to the leads’ fleeting sanities. If anything were to be corrected by the director, it’d be the occasionally disjointed cuts back to before the ship wrecks - although the slow build up does pay off in the end in some capacity.
Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, and David Branson Smith penned the script for Adrift and there are some issues with the structure of the final story. The idea of the film cutting back and forth between the two scenarios seems like a fantastic idea on paper but when put into action, it can cause the film to feel a little rushed. The dialogue is well written, and even if it wasn’t, the leads gave the dialogue a sense of humanity, and ultimately knocked it out of the ballpark. SPOILER: The twist near the concluding minutes of the feature threw me for a loop, even though moments prior I was commenting to myself that “there’s probably a Gravity twist coming up,” and just like that, it happened. Bravo to the writers on a decent twist. The characters’ bond is undeniable, helped by the talent behind the roles, but when the writing of the scenes is analyzed, their love on paper would give hardly any reason for the viewers to grind their teeth in anticipation of whether or not the two lovebirds will make it out alive.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Adrift is built up primarily with the two leads, Shailene Woodley & Sam Claflin, and while Claflin does an admirable job in his role as Richard, it really is Woodley’s Tami who is the more prominent character. Showing love, admiration of the art of sailing, and then later on a fatigue of everything she once adored, Woodley dazzles, as she manages to convey these emotions effortlessly with an extra depth to otherwise stiff dialogue. Speaking of dialogue, the film chooses to opt out of having an overabundance of speaking, as the score more often than not drowns out the noises of the film. It may be that there was too much expectation of Claflin bringing another strong performance like his great work in Me Before You, that his work here didn’t shine through as much; but no matter how it’s viewed, Claflin seemed to give his all to his ‘calm under pressure’ Richard.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
For the first time in a while, the score was front and center and I absolutely loved it. It was simplistic, casual, and needed a good amount of build up to be fully embraced for the great score it is. Composed by Volker Bertelmann, who composed the phenomenal score for Lion, the score stunned again with a single instrument playing a harmonizing tune before being joined by an orchestra to create a sense of danger when necessary, or even an emotional love story from start to end. Contained within Adrift are two meddling songs that just bring the entire experience down a notch - there’s one at the beginning when there’s a rushed montage of the two falling in love, and then one at the end when the film is about to draw to a close. The songs feel disconnected from the usually serious tone of the film and their cheesy nature really distracts from the remainder of what the film has to offer.
The level of subtle dryness to the survivors faces, is greatly representative of the number of days the two have been stranded through. Whether it be wounds getting worse or skin starting to dry to a crisp, the makeup team did a tremendous job making the damage of being stranded at sea look extraordinarily severe. The visuals of the surrounding waters were all beautifully shot and really gave a gasp-worthy atmosphere for our leads to be ready to potentially die in. The action when storming was well shot, though chaotic, and did have a sense of intentional nausea attached to the sharp scene. They were filmed in such a way to represent to the audience with an experience somewhat comparable with what the victims were witness to. It’s a gorgeous film, with a grounded look to it all - luckily never diving into an overly drawn out fictional CGI looking ocean for Tami and Richard to be stranded in.
Adrift is a remarkable film that adapts successful elements from other films and attaches them onto a survival story that the audience has seen a thousand times over - creating a film that is predictable, yet captivating. Brought together by fabulous acting from Claflin and especially Woodley, Adrift succeeds where in the hands of a less talented pair would have fallen flat on its face. That, and with the help of the great director behind Everest, Adrift became something more than a typical survivalist tale and instead a strong telling of a singular case during another large natural storm and the repercussions of their actions during said storm. The only real question is will either of them survive the sea alive, or will their story be just another warning for those looking to sail the world? Watch and find out...