Two nice young people fall in love in scenic Tahiti, set sail on a romantic ocean voyage and come to grief when a hurricane wrecks their boat.
That's the essence of “Adrift.”
The movie is an anodyne seaborne love story starring Shailene Woodley, and Sam Claflin as the star-crossed couple, Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp. It's based on the 1998 memoir, “Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea,” by Friday Harbor-based author Tami Oldham Ashcraft (co-written by Susea McGearhart).
The story charts the romance and Oldham’s 41-day ordeal of being trapped aboard the drifting, dismasted yacht before being rescued. The portrayal of Sharp’s fate is a significant departure from the events in the book.
Set in 1983 and scripted by twin brother screenwriters Aaron and Jordan Kandell (David Branson Smith shares screenplay credit), “Adrift” jumps back and forth between picturesque Tahitian scenes showing the blooming of the romance (cliff diving, sun-kissed sailing interludes and exchanges of rapt looks of love) and the days of growing desperation as food runs low and hopes for rescue dim.
Woodley and Claflin make an attractive pair, but they’re not particularly convincing playing people deeply, deeply in love. There’s something lacking in the conviction department there. Dialogue that shades into greeting-card prose — “I sailed half the world to find you.” — doesn’t help matters.
Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (“Everest”) and veteran director of photography Robert Richardson (“Kill Bill,” “The Aviator”) have crafted a handsome-looking movie full of roiling seas and vistas of gleaming waters stretching to far horizons that effectively convey the isolation and peril experienced by the hapless couple.
As a sea saga, “Adrift” is a minor-league addition to the genre.
☆☆stars out of 4
Cast: Shailene Woodley, and Sam Claflin
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Rated: PG-13 for injury images, peril, language, brief drug use, partial nudity and thematic elements