Adrift Movie Review

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If there is one thing I am afraid of, it’s drowning. But the strangest thing is, despite that, I do love the water. The fear itself has resonated with me my whole life to the point that I, a middle-aged man, do not know how to swim. Though when it comes to being in a boat, or playing in a pool or open body of water, I’m able to have fun.

So, when I see sailboats or speedboats, I look at them in both awe and fear, wondering how much fun they would. But at the same time, I’m left wondering what could happen.

Adrift tells the true story of Tami Oldham Ashcraft and Richard Sharp who, in 1983, sailed through Hurricane Raymond on their way to San Diego. During the film, not only do we see their journey in the Pacific, but we also learn how they met and spend their time together before that trip in 1983.

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur, and starring Shailene Woodley as Tami and Sam Claflin as Richard, Adrift hinges on the believability of its cast and the relationship that they have.


Shailene Woodley, known most recently for being arrested during the 2016 Dakota Pipeline Protest for criminal trespassing and as Tris in the Divergent series, is by far the highlight of this movie. Throughout the film, she gives a performance that pulls you into the character, both in her happiness before the hurricane and her desperation after. It’s this performance that holds the film together from start to finish.

Sam Claflin, known for his work as Finnick Odair in the Hunger Games series, puts in a performance that is believable in both his suffering after the hurricane and his joy in sailing before it. His work as Richard Sharp serves as excellent motivation for Tami to survive after Hurricane Raymond.


The biggest problem I have with Adrift is the way it is edited together. Weaving back and forth between the time before the hurricane and after it made it difficult to follow the character development of both Tami and Richard. It was this editing that made it hard for me to believe in the love and romance between Shailene and Sam.

After watching the movie and thinking about it, I came to understand why it was edited the way it was. If it ran on a full timeline schedule, it would have been an uneven story. The first half would have been all joy and happiness, and the back half would have been nothing but despair and desperation.

The way it was edited was the only way to spread out the emotions of the film. Even though it made it hard for me to believe in the love of the characters, it was realistically the only way to put this film together.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Adrift is held together on the strength of Shailene Woodly’s performance. While I am not someone who could make this kind of decision, and without knowing what the rest of the year holds, it would not be a shock for me to see her nominated for Best Actress at the 91st Academy Awards next year. While Sam Claflin doesn’t put in a performance as strong as Shailene’s, it is still worth mentioning.

With the only downside being the way it was edited, it was one that I’m glad I got to see. With a brief shot of nudity and some realistic injuries that were painful to even look at, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for the youngest of cinema-goers, even with its PG-13 rating. But I would recommend it for the older crowd that enjoys stories of people overcoming the odds.

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