Directed by Baltasar Kormákur
A storm blasts two lovers at sea.
“Adrift is what you might call a pleasant-surprise picture,” said Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly. Walking in, you expect merely a competent dramatization of a real-life high-seas disaster. But director Baltasar Kormákur “has a knack for making the pedestrian feel surprising and fresh,” and his thrilling survival scenes almost cancel out the “slightly sappy” romance that sets the stage. Even Shailene Woodley, a reliable actress and this picture’s producer, struggles with those flashback scenes, said Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. Fortunately, the story we care about is how young Tami Oldham braved an impossible situation after a hurricane wrecked the yacht she and her fiancé were sailing on, and she “actually looks, moves, and responds like someone who knows her way around a craft on water.” Thanks to clever story management, the storm itself arrives late and delivers “a hell of a climax,” said Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times. But the same narrative strategy renders Adrift “maybe too easy to watch.” The flashbacks let viewers regularly escape the ordeal of 41 days at sea. That feels, by the end, “like an evasion.” ■