The appeal for a movie like Adrift, where both Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin get lost at sea for forty-one real days or ninety-six minutes of reel time, depends on whether ones Divergent and Hunger Games memories can compete with director Baltasar Kormakur’s flashbacks, hallucinations and squishy ocean recreations.
I couldn’t get through the first reel before both dramatic and tidal inertia had me wondering why two character true-life sea survival movies can’t overcome the inherent mental drama of survival itself before drowning completely in the ever ebbing and flowing, flowing and ebbing details of that survival.
Aside from one big wave that capsizes every thing, Adrift features no shark attacks, plundering, not even imminent starvation and death. There are just memories, hallucinations, love patter and encouragement, to complement the ever constant spear fishing and sextant charting. Pain is recognized with a few facial blisters and some sunburn. Life here is not just treading and bailing water but sloshing through it.
Adrift is happy to stay a tale about how love and its memories can get Shailene Woodley through to the end credits. That’s when you get to see the photos of the real heroine. She still sails the seas every chance she gets. Honor Tami Oldham Ashcraft not by going to the movie but reading her book.