The cinematography is very much the film’s lead selling point
As is often the case, recounting true events exactly as they happened makes for a far better story than using fictitious ideas when the story is wild and unpredictable. Adrift is altogether different, as its deceit and secrets turn the film around, making it a thoroughly emotional piece rather than just a ‘romance at sea.’
Tami (Shailene Woodley) and Richard (Sam Claflin) are given the great honour of sailing their friends’ boat from Tahiti to San Diego while they visit an unwell relative. However, their trip becomes infinitely more dangerous as Hurricane Raymond draws close to their location. The sea becomes wild and ferocious, and soon their voyage grinds to a halt as their boat is capsized. After the storm, Tami must find Richard amongst the debris, and set themselves back on course for land.
The cinematography is very much the film’s lead selling point, and the difference between the moments filmed at sea compared to those shot in front of a green screen is stark. It certainly pulls away from the narrative rather than adding to it, purely due to there being such a difference in the quality.
And this raises other questions around the film’s editing, floating into issues far more often than it should on a major release such as Adrift. It just feels as if the film reel was pieced together in the wrong order. Rather than showing it as a linear story, the film cuts seem sporadic and unneeded, removing any of the little tension Adrift has managed to muster up beforehand. This quickly becomes annoying and does put up a blockade against much of the emotion held within the story.
It would be easy to look at Adrift as a wasted opportunity, with such a strong story about survival and love behind it, but there are elements that do manage to make it worthwhile. Woodley and Claflin seem believable and impassioned, and the cinematography is often brilliant, but if the scenes had just been rearranged, there would be a much better film left to represent such a heart-wrenching story.
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