American films

Adrift film review: Shailene Woodley stars as shipwrecked amateur mariner in engrossing true-life survival tale

Tough performance by Woodley, playing Tami Oldham – who, with fiancé Richard Sharp, was caught in a hurricane while sailing a boat to its new owners and improvises a sail to reach land – takes some liberties but is well made, neatly structured and portray effectively her grim battle with the sea

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 2:08pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 2:09pm

3.5/5 stars

Although the action in Adrift is not as detailed as that in All is Lost, the Robert Redford survival drama, it’s a well-made shipwreck movie with some exciting and poignant moments.

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The direction of Baltasar Kormákur ( Everest ) errs towards the perfunctory, but a tough performance by Shailene Woodley, as a shipwrecked amateur mariner determined to guide her crippled yacht back to port, makes for an engrossing watch.

The film is based on the true story of Tami Oldham, an experienced sailor who took the job, with her fiancé Richard Sharp, of sailing a yacht from Tahiti to its new owners in San Diego, in the United States, in 1983. The pair ran into the massive Hurricane Raymond in the middle of the Pacific, and Sharp was swept overboard and lost.

The yacht was wrecked, but Oldham improvised a sail and navigated using a sextant, spending 41 days at sea before finding land.

Adrift is based on Oldham’s memoir, although the film does take one big liberty with the truth – Sharp (Sam Claflin) is found by Oldham and rescued. Towards the end of the film, the reason for this change is given, but it still has the effect of diminishing Oldham’s abilities – she takes directions on how to pilot the yacht from Sharp, when in real life she was more than capable of the performing the tasks herself.

The structure is neat, cutting between the storm and its aftermath, and scenes of the couple’s first meeting and their growing romance. Although the latter parts are straightforward, they’re not cloying, and don’t detract from Oldham’s grim battle with the sea.

Adrift opens on September 6

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