Tami Oldham left her home in San Diego California right after high school determined to explore the world. Five years later she landed in Tahiti and worked at a marina. Richard was an Englishman who built his boat, Mayaluga and sailed it alone all over the world. As he anchored in Tahiti, Tami caught his eye. They two soon spent most of their time together sailing to local islands they explored and enjoyed. Then one day Richard's friends found him in Tahiti and made him an offer he didn't want to refuse.
His Friends, Peter (Jeffrey Thomas; The Hobbit series) and Christine (Elizabeth Hawthorne; Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), asked Richard to sail their boat, The Hazana, from Tahiti to San Diego for ten thousand dollars and a first class plane to return. Richard bargains for a second ticket and he and Tami agree to deliver the boat together. Then, three weeks into their trip they end up in the middle of a Category four hurricane named Raymond. Tami wakes up after the storm to a destroyed boat and Richard nowhere to be found. She manages to salvage some food and makes a makeshift sail and spends the next 41 days alone at sea determined to survive.
Woodley is wonderful as Tami, embracing her usual carefree attitude. She portrays Tami's grit and determination and moments of desperation with grace and poise and makes the audience feel her despair. Claflin once again plays a character with limited movement and spends much of his time expressing emotion simply with his vocal tones and facial expression. It's a feat some actors couldn't pull off but he manages to do it well. In other actors hands, this would have been a different film.
Of course, the other characters in this movie are the vastness of the ocean, the sky, and the hurricane-battered boat. The visuals are stunning and director Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns) uses all of them to his advantage. The chaos of the situation below deck on the ruined yacht is a sharp contrast to the mostly serene waters that surround Tami for as far as the eye can see. The color explosion of the sky at moments are beautiful and volatile all at once. Kormakur shot much of these sequences on the open water and I can understand why as there would have been a very different feel had he chosen to shoot in a studio with a green screen behind the actors.
Compelling and life-affirming, Adrift is a real-life survival story that ends on an upbeat note after tragedy struck. It is also a lesson in moving on after a devastating and terrifying experience. Emotional and draining it will make you wonder what you have been doing with your life. It will also make feel sympathy for Tami and admire her all at the same time.