Wandering spirit: Inspirational 'Adrift' never quite finds its course

Sam Claflin and Shailene Woodley star in "ADRIFT." (STXfilms)

3 out of 5 Stars
Baltasar Kormákur
Writers: Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, David Branson Smith
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13 for injury images, peril, language, brief drug use, partial nudity and thematic elements

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) - Synopsis: Tami Oldham is a wandering soul who moves from job to job as she sails around the world. A chance meeting with Richard Sharp, a kindred spirit, has the two falling in love. Tasked with taking a friend’s boat back to California, Tami and Richard find themselves caught up in a hurricane that badly damages their boat. Lost at sea, the duo is forced to survive on the limited supplies they brought with them.

Review: Based on a true story, “Adrift” is a compelling story about the will to survive that is hampered by the parameters of its narrative. It’s hard to make being adrift in the middle of nowhere interesting. It’s monotonous moments of starved and sunburned bodies bobbing on the sea begging for relief or rescue.

To break up the tedium, “Adrift” features numerous flashbacks that focus on Tami meeting Richard and a taste of the adventures they embark on together.

This essentially makes “Adrift” a survival thriller that is frequently interrupted by a romantic drama. We watch as the young and somewhat wild Tami (Shailene Woodley) and the older, more seasoned Richard (Sam Claflin) fall hopelessly in love. Neither of the two has any interest in being chained to a singular place. So, the duo runs toward the unreachable horizon together.

We also watch as Tami and Richard bake in the sun and slowly lose their minds. From time to time there is a storm, but mostly they just slowly drift toward hopelessness.

The jumping back and forth on the timeline effectively slows any momentum and strips away the tension that the story tries to establish in the post-storm present. If the moments in the past felt like Tami’s memories, rather than a narrative tool used by the screenwriters, the film might have felt more cohesive.

I wanted a film on par with Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” or J.C. Chandor’s “All is Lost,” but “Adrift” never quite gets there.

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