Film

Adrift

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Adrift oscillates in terms of quality. This unevenness is exemplified by the film’s use of two Tom Waits songs. The first is an ear-bleedingly twee cover of the bourbon-soaked crooner’s “I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love With You”, the inclusion of which is just one of several disappointing missteps. There’s also an unfortunate smattering of sickly-sweet Nicholas Sparks-esque dialogue, and a needlessly bifurcated structure that sees the narrative heavy-handedly flip-flop between timelines. The constant flashbacks can be perceived as a necessary indulgence in order to countermand some one-location stagnation, but they singularly undermine the build-up of tension.

The second song, however, is the heartbreaking “Picture in a Frame” sung by Waits himself, the judicious usage of which paints director Baltasar Kormákur in an altogether more flattering light, and calls to mind other high points, such as cinematographer Robert Richardson’s impeccable craft when it comes to underwater sequences and making the seascape look both gorgeous and life-threatening. As for a slightly hammy third-act reveal, most will have already sussed it out before the twist hits, but it’s handled adeptly and delivers the heart-tugging goods.

Overall, this isn’t a patch on J.C. Chandor’s gripping All is Lost, an obvious but inevitable comparative touchstone when it comes to recent man-vs-nature films set at sea. That being said, Adrift manages to steer the course as a familiar but compelling tale of survival, and all things considered is just about more hit than miss.

Adrift | Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (US, 2018), with Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin. Starts July 12.

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