Shailene Woodley has suffered for being in the Divergent series. As with Kristen Stewart, any actual ability she possesses is easily dismissed because she dared make a little money or misjudge the quality of a film franchise. Adrift offered an opportunity to change her reputation. It’s emotional and traumatic film.

Adrift tells the real-life story of Tami Oldham, who got caught with her boyfriend Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) in a disastrous storm while sailing a boat to California. The young lovers had some experience and felt confident they could make the journey, unable to anticipate the adverse conditions which awaited them.

We are brought into the film after the storm has full functionality of the boat, leaving us to experience the fear and confusion along with the couple, who awake in a flooded cabin. Immediately, there is panic, isolation and hopelessness. 

Even after the inciting incident, the sense of peril does not completely abate. This is still a battle of inexperienced youth versus forces of nature. Tami has to navigate a broken vessel to Hawaii while suffering from lack of food and water, with a mind that is being affected by the side effects of her deprivation. Her hope comes from conversations with the injured Richard, who is unable to offer any help aside from verbal encouragement.

Tami (Shailene Woodley) and Richard (Sam Claflin) after the storm

The relationship between the couple is believable, sold to the viewer through flashbacks which can be saccharine. There is a convincing level of chemistry between the actors, which is completely necessary to sell the heartbreak and fear which dominates their interactions post-disaster.

It’s not a perfect movie but certainly one worth watching. Its appeal lies in its humanity. We are not concerned about the future of a country or planet, just two lost souls. That humanity is sold almost entirely through Woodley’s performance. Claflin is a solid performer but his role requires less of a journey through his own emotional extremes.

At times the music and dialogue are so sweet they instigate a diabetic coma. However, there are aspects to offset this. To sell the loneliness, the camera pans out to reveal the scope of the incident and remind the audience that one of the biggest threats we face is nature. And nature can’t be reasoned with.

Dir: Baltasar Kormákur

Scr: Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, David Branson Smith

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Thomas, Elizabeth Hawthorne

Prd: Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, Baltasar Kormákur, Shailene Woodley

DoP: Robert Richardson

Music: Volker Bertelmann

Country: USA

Year: 2018

Runtime: 96 min

Adrift is available on digital now and DVD/Blu-Ray from November 5th.