Okay, I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever had such a visceral reaction at the movies. I’ve never squirmed as much, tensed as much or made so much noise! And before you call me a wimp, I wasn’t the only one either! Whenever I winced at another shocking moment, I’d look over and see my best friend Reuben covering his mouth, or eyes, or even his entire face!
As the final credits rolled we both let out a collective sigh. It was the first time we’d dared to breathe since the beginning of the film. We were exhausted – physically drained – but from what!? Sitting comfortably in a cinema for the last couple of hours? We weren’t the ones who spent 41 days floating in the ocean. But it sure felt like it.
Basically Adrift is a literal gut punch of a film! More precisely it’s multiple gut punches, interspersed with moments where you’re just waiting for another blow to the belly. But it’s a MUST SEE in the cinema.
Based on the true story of Tami Oldham Ashcraft & Richard Sharp, Adrift is the cinematic retelling of their journey from falling in love to being lost at sea after Hurricane Raymond. From the beginning we are mercilessly thrown into the deep end, as Tami (Shailene Woodley) regains consciousness in the hull of their wrecked boat. A gory gash on her head is bleeding profusely and she flies into a grief stricken panic (because of course you would!). The cinematography here is gorgeous; the beginning shot seems to last a whole two minutes! We agonizingly have to wait to discover the true devastation in real time.
Then suddenly, everything becomes calm. We flashback to the events that happened before Hurricane Raymond – aka the sappy love story between Tami and Richard (Sam Claflin). And when I say sappy, I do mean it. There’s nothing overly exciting about seeing two beautiful people fall in love. Particularly when it’s so cliché and cheesy – it’s almost as if I began watching a romcom. And with dialogue like “I sailed the world to find you, I’m not going to just let you go”, how can you blame me?
The interesting thing is, as the film progressed, I longed for these moments. I prayed to be watching the romcom again! I just needed relief from the excruciating reality being presented to me. Make the pretty people pretty again!
Adrift is just well crafted! It’s as if you’re watching two movies simultaneously: the sappy romcom and the overwhelmingly real disaster film. The way the film abruptly jumps between the two without warning is so genius and excruciating at the same time. One presents itself like any typical movie-going experience. Simple shots, beautiful people – a good time! And then gut punch; we’re adrift at sea again. The beautiful people are ugly and distorted, the shots are so close it’s uncomfortable, or slightly skewed so you feel off balance, or it just holds for so long you need to look away but you can’t.
What puts this film over the top for me, and is also the main reason you have to see Adrift in the cinema, is the sound. Sitting in the IMAX and hearing every detail of the sound design is an absolute must. I don’t pretend to know anything about sound design, but even a noob like me realises how amazing it was. Everything is so heightened, so raw. As the waves crash you feel like you’re going to be swept overboard. When the wind blows you’re worried which direction it’s coming from – are we still on course? Reuben was even worried our packet of Maltesers would blow away if he set them down!
After the credits had finished and the lights came up we were still talking about the experience we had just had. But here’s a word of wisdom for you! Do not, I repeat DO NOT do any research about the story behind this film, I caution you to not even read any online synopses! Do yourself a favour and go and experience this story raw, and discover each moment as it happens. The crafting of this film takes you on such an amazing journey that you just won’t do it justice if you’re trying to anticipate what happens next.
My only worry is that because Adrift isn’t your typical blockbuster film, it may slip under the radar. But you need to go experience this story in the cinema. Just be prepared to never want to go near the ocean again.