Adrift is a true story that focuses on a young woman (Tami Oldham) who survives for 41 days with about a two weeks’ supply of food, after the sailboat she and her boyfriend are on is wrecked by a storm out in the Pacific ocean. Though I did enjoy watching it, I must admit that as a film about survival on the ocean, it felt somewhat unnecessary. The basic story of surviving on the ocean is nothing new to cinema, and Adrift didn’t have much that made it stick out. While I was watching it, I was reminded of 2013’s All is Lost, which, using almost no dialogue and doing an excellent job of focusing in on the intensity of the events through pure visuals, was a much better movie. An even bigger sin, however, is the fact that Adrift shares the name of Steven Callahan’s memoir about how he survived for 76 days on an inflatable life raft by catching fish and creating a heating system to evaporate and collect drinking water, a story that greatly overshadows that of the movie’s.
Now, I don’t want to bring the film down too much (I did say that I enjoyed watching it). One thing that did help to save it was its strong relationship between Tami and her boyfriend, Richard Sharp. Many survival films focus mainly on one person getting through (or not) a life threatening situation. Without anything too original or overly impressive in this aspect of its story, Adrift had to devote a fair amount of time to developing the relationship between its two major characters in order to stick out among the other films of this category. It did this well, transitioning pretty equally between post storm (Tami surviving on the boat with Richard who is severely injured and near death) and pre storm (Tami and Richard falling in love and talking about their plans to travel the world together). It is as much a love story as it is a story of survival. With the relationship well established, the scenes of Tami trying to keep herself, as well as Richard, alive are all the more intense.
Though I didn’t find it to be overly impressive as a film, it was still a gripping story that was made all the better by the fact that it was true. There is also a surprising twist at the end of the movie that I won’t spoil in this review. Ultimately, it was entertaining and worth the watch.