After seeing Shailene Woodley perform admirably in various teen fictions (eg Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars), it is incredible to see her dive into a mature role and truly stretch her acting abilities in Adrift.
Set in the 80s, Adrift follows travellers Tami (Shailene Woodley) and Richard (Sam Claflin) who fall in love and embark on a sailing journey. However, while in the middle of the ocean, the pair find themselves caught in a hurricane. With various injuries and a damaged ship, the pair struggle to survive.
With 90% of the movie filmed at sea, Woodley and Claflin must be commended for portraying the characters so perfectly. Although, the constant rocking of their set probably helped any method acting. Of course, not everything was practical, but when visual effects were used, nothing was lost. The audience still empathised with Tami and Richard’s love and terror.
And because of Woodley and Claflin’s acting talents, the audience is pulled into every moment. Whether it is Richard’s corny yet lovable nature, or Tami’s impulsive yet determined character, the audience is hooked. With these two actors being the soul focus for the film’s majority, the pair could have easily lost the audience’s attention. But their chemistry and rawness holds the audience to the end.
Woodley is almost unrecognisable by the end of the film. It’s a gradual change that the audience almost doesn’t realise until she desperately waves down her rescuers. From the way Woodley held herself, to the terrifyingly realistic (what I assume was) makeup, she really made Tami a believable, desperate survivor.
Later in the film when the audience is shown the full magnitude of the hurricane, the film’s pacing starts to stumble. Since the film’s opening, the story bounces between the present in the 80s, and the lead up to them sailing. This method works best, especially when you don’t want the audience getting seasick with the endless blue. And for the most part, this does help keep the audience’s attention. However, at the three-quarter mark, the time jumps make less sense and cause its climax to lose its full impact. But when it’s based on a true story, these moments are difficult to avoid.
True stories tend to have a lull before the climax as the story tries to pull the tension out a little longer. And although this is present in Adrift, this setback is omissible due to the phenomenal lead actors.
Supporting the whole journey is the wonderful choice of music. From setting recurring motifs, to filling its audience with a sense of foreboding, Adrift manages to tell its own story just through its soundtrack. The cinematography follows suit by contrasting the beauty of the ocean and rivers, to the varying ferocity and vastness of being lost at sea. The most breath-taking imageries come from underwater and where the camera view is split by the water’s surface. There’s a beautiful duality to the visuals and comparison from peaceful to fearful that keeps the audience in awe.
Adrift holds two outstanding performances from Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin. The pair have managed to nearly carry the whole film, all the while outshining any pacing issues. With a soundtrack theme just as emotion as the pair’s journey and with captivating visuals, Adrift is definitely a film you want to see this winter.
Adrift hits Australian theatres on June 28th.