Sailing into theaters this Friday from director Baltasar Kormakur and STX Entertainment comes the true story of survival when you are “Adrift.”
Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) is a young woman who has left her San Diego home to travel the world. Going wherever the tide and jobs take her, Tami ends up in Tahiti cleaning boats.
Putting into the dock, Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) is a man clearly in love with the sea, even the worst parts of it. Meeting Tami they clearly find a connection for wandering and explore the island and their relationship. They also sail on the boat Richard built himself, the Mayaluga, and Tami couldn’t be happier.
Richard runs into family friends Peter (Jeffrey Thomas) and Christine (Elizabeth Hawthorne) who own the 44-foot yacht called the Hazana. They are thrilled to ask Richard if he wants to take their boat back to harbor in San Diego with a thank you fee of $10,000 and a return ticket back to Tahiti.
Tami isn’t sure she wants to return to her hometown but Richard sees the money as a way for them to continue to sail wherever their hearts want to go. They set sail on their first 4,000-mile adventure together!
What they are unaware of yet is that one of the most catastrophic hurricanes is coming their way. Trying to avoid it doesn’t work as they batten down the sails and attempt to ride it out. Being thrown around, Tami wakes to a tossed ship, the sails in the water and Richard badly hurt.
Getting him settled, Tami takes stock of the provisions that are still aboard and drinkable water in the tanks. Grabbing the sextant and a map, she begins to figure out what is the best way they can be rescued before their supplies run out. Questioning every move she makes, it is the steady voice of Richard that guides them.
Because in that is the power of their love.
Woodley as Tami is a free-spirited individual who makes it very clear that she goes where the jobs take her with no thought of staying or going. Meeting Richard is a chance to not only share a little bit of herself but also really understand the freedom of her life. Woodley personifies that spirit as she has in so many other films. In this instance, she is the right actress to draw us all into the journey.
Claflin as Richard is Woodley’s equal on the screen with the same ability to draw us into the spirit of someone who lives for the sea. Good, bad or otherwise, Richard has built a boat that takes him wherever he wants without apologies. It is easy to see how the two would be drawn into a relationship. Richard is a little more reserved that Tami and it is clear he is in love.
“Adrift” is based on the true story from the book “Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea” by Tami Oldham Ashcraft. The event happened in October of 1983 when Ashcraft was 23-years-old. A Category 4 hurricane with 50 foot high waves and 160 mph winds were no match for the two sailors.
The film is very well done, as it is impossible to not become involved in the story. Of course, I believe that all stories about ocean survival are incredible from the mere fact that it is the ocean! It is unpredictable, unrelenting, surprising and majestic and when its waves are ruffled, there is nothing more fierce.
Also, compelling in knowing that there is very little one can do on the ocean when what keeps you alive is taken away. The panic for just food and water isn’t something you can do much about unless you are willing to fish and pray for rain. That’s what makes the difference between giving up and total survival.
Woodley and Claflin are stellar together and watching them from beginning to end bring a sniffle. The portrayal of their real-life counterparts is sweet and spirited bringing the audience into their story of love and survival.
In the end – their every emotion is as deep as the ocean!