Movie review: 'Adrift'

New drama's valiant effort flounders, but not because of the actors


One might imagine a film having a minimal cast to be ideal. In the case of "Adrift," there is the added appeal of working with two attractive actors beloved by fans eager to discover what romantic chemistry might ignite between them in a story based upon a true incident.

As we know time and again, real life rarely follows a well-written script, and attractive stars might act their hearts out, but if the story has to be forced into something that tries to be novel, you know something is not quite right at the heart.

"Adrift" is, or should be, about the experiences of a woman named Tami (played by Shailene Woodley) who embarks on a sailing adventure with her new boyfriend Richard (Sam Clafin) only to meet a huge storm at sea that leaves the boat severely damaged and, well, adrift.

That's the basic framework of the script by Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell and David Branson Smith, based upon the book by Tami Oldham Ashcraft. Beyond that is the way the story is told by director Baltasar Kormákur (2015's "Everest"). Kormákur had a certain challenge ahead, which I won't reveal here because it may spoil an important plot point, that forced his hand to use a technique that works and sometimes doesn't. This involves breaking up the story into present-day actions intercut with flashbacks.

As you might expect, the flashbacks explore how Tami and Richard meet and fall in love. Both are free spirits who live for adventure and ways to experience the wonders of nature and world cultures.

Tami takes odd jobs, so she can make enough money to travel from place to place, while Richard has a sailboat he built himself that he uses to travel from port to port. They meet and soon fall for each other, gradually becoming inseparable.

One day, Richard is given an opportunity to sail a boat belonging to a family friend back to the United States. Tami is hesitant to go with him because she isn't quite ready to go back home. But, love wins out. The boat they take is a beautiful luxury craft that is fully outfitted for comfort and long stretches at sea.

Interspersed, of course, are segments that detail the aftermath of a horrific hurricane and the efforts at survival that are designed to pull at our heartstrings. This kind of story has been done before in various ways, so there is a familiarity you can't ignore, even if you know what really happened.

Some might be able to set that aside and vicariously enjoy the idea of being a young person adrift in the world before commitments and responsibility anchor you down. Or, you can sit bored, waiting for something to happen. It's your choice.

"Adrift" is rated PG-13 for injury images, peril, language, brief drug use, partial nudity and thematic.

It is showing daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit

Also showing in Taos

The following were compiled from press materials.

The Guardians

MPAA rating: R for some violence and sexuality

Movies at the TCA

This drama from director Xavier Beauvois is set in 1915.

Life at the Paridier farm has changed dramatically since the men of the family — Constant Sandrail (Nicolas Giraud), Georges Sandrail (Cyril Descours) and Clovis (Olivier Rabourdin) — left home to fight on the front lines of World War I.

Hortense Sandrail (Nathalie Baye), Georges and Constant’s mother and Clovis’ mother-in-law, has taken over courageously but, although helped by her daughter Solange (Laura Smet), she finds it hard to get by with all the workload.

When harvest time comes, she makes up her mind to hire a farmhand, but she is too late and no man is available. The mayor then recommends an orphan named Francine Riant (Iris Bry), who could do. Hortense agrees and the choice soon appears a blessing, as the girl proves perfect: well-mannered and respectful. She is also a hard worker who does not balk at any task.

Hortense, Solange and Francine form an effective trio who make the most of the situation. Then, one day, Georges returns to the farm on leave and everything changes for the women.

Incidentally, Baye and Smet are real life mother and daughter.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (June 10), and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (June 11-13).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit