Nothing gets me weeping harder than real footage or actual photographs of the people a movie was based on. And, boy, did the photos of real-life Tami and Richard hit me right in the instant-weepies-button. When the credits rolled for Adrift, I was already at my emotional limit, and when the words rolled up the screen, I let out the breath I didn’t know I had been holding.
Tami and Richard are both drifters. They meet by chance in Tahiti and see kindred spirits in each other. Richard gets offered the chance to sail a luxury yacht to San Diego and both he and Tami agree to do so. (A $10,000 paycheck and the promise of first-class tickets back to Tahiti definitely sweeten the pot.) Their journey starts off beautifully, and the scenes where they are together on the boat are so lovely that they are guaranteed to melt even the toughest of hearts. Then they run into a vicious storm and everything turns upside down. Literally.
It is a rollercoaster of a movie with director Baltasar Kormákur mixing the past and present into a beautiful crescendo, so when the action of the storm finally hit (in Act III, by the way) I was so invested in the characters that the storm knocked me out of my seat just as hard as it knocks their boat around. Flip. That storm looks horrific, wet, dangerous, just so so awful. I can’t say it is an advertisement for sailing, no matter how romantic the notion of living at sea seems.
The cast of Adrift is phenomenal. Shailene Woodley (Divergent, The Descendants, Big Little Lies) is perfection in this role. She played the carefree beach babe so well and then her performance transformed into something so affecting that I could not take my eyes off her. She is basically in every scene and carries the movie with such grace and oomph that I can’t imagine anyone else in this role.
Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Hunger Games, Love, Rosie) is also a dream—but I have a major crush on him so I wouldn’t say anything but that. He plays the older, worldly man, and he really is lovely. (I mean, I would go on a 2,000-mile yacht trip with him too.) Their chemistry is palpable and is ultimately what makes this movie work. Without it, this would be a story of two people sitting on a slowly drifting boat, and all I would have cared about was the pretty seascape shots (which are incredible, by the way). Instead, it’s about the resilience that humans show when faced with even the toughest of odds, but most of all, this is a movie about the power of love and the lengths some people go for the person they love. It’s wonderful.