Real-life drama at sea

ADRIFT is based on the book by Tami Oldham Ashcraft.

By Gabrielle R. Borromeo, Contributor

One of the worst scenarios one could ever be in would be to be adrift in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of nowhere, with no access to help. This is one of my worst nightmares.

This was what Adrift is about, an incredible true story about the resilience of the human spirit and the transcendent power of love. It is a movie proudly presented by VIVA International Pictures and based on the book by none other than Tami Oldham Ashcraft herself, the victim of the tragedy.

The story revolves around Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp, two young lovers who sail across the ocean together, only to sail directly into Hurricane Raymond. Whipping up 40-foot waves and 140-knot winds, it is one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

In the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to numerous wounds and injuries, but panic-stricken, she finds a way to fix what’s left of the dilapidated boat and tries to contact land for help, but to no response. A miraculous moment is when Tami finds Richard, badly injured but alive, hanging on for his life in the waters. As soon as they get back in the boat, Richard lies down to recover and Tami musters all the strength and determination she has to save them both.

To critique the film with me was Aurthur “Arni” Mercader, an animator and filmmaker himself who finished at the Vancouver Film School. We both agreed that Adrift was a good enough movie, an eye-opener at least, to all the possibilities when left adrift. For Arni, who followed the crumbs that the writers left, the plot twist was no so shocking, but he was happy enough for it to be not obvious enough to ruin the movie. The plot twist, however, shocked the life out of me. In the moment of revelation, I felt like my heart was in my hand.

As for room for improvement, we both believe the movie could have done better in the plot, as it wasn’t as engaging as we hoped it would be.

Given that Adrift was a love story, it would be entertaining to see more of what the couple could offer — more skin, more intimacy, more close-up scenes on what it would be like in their relationship. AS it is, I guess I have to say it would make a great family film, not even Rated PG (Parental Guidance).

Also, too many scenes were about the same thing, discussing the same issues or at least predictable scenarios.

Taking the role of Tami is Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars/Divergent), while Richard is played by Sam Claflin (Me Before You/The Hunger Games). Aaron Kandell (Walt Disney’s Moana), one of the movie’s screenwriters, reveals that he and his twin brother Jordan wrote the story with Woodley in mind. When they visited Tami Oldham in her home in the San Juan Islands, they instantly saw her strength and her free spirit, and she reminded them so much of Woodley whom they’ve known since her role in The Descendants.

SHAILENE Woodley had to maintain a 350-calorie-a-day diet for the movie.

“So as soon as we finished (the script), she was the first person we sent it to,” Jordan adds.

Claflin, on the other hand, bagged the role of Richard after a phone call with the acclaimed director Baltasar Kormakur (Everest, The Oath) who convinced him that he was “totally right for the role.”

Woodley, a swimmer, but not a pro in sailing, spent about a month before production in Hawaii learning how to sail on all different types of boats. She shares, “I was so captivated by all of it, by who Tami is and the love story. I really felt the energy of the divine soulmate connection between Tami and her fiancée, Richard.”

Woodley and Claflin rehearsed together for two weeks in Fiji prior to principal photography.

“It was so helpful…We really just clicked,” says Woodley about her co-star, whom she further describes as “hands down, the hardest-working, most generous, compassionate individual” she’s ever worked with. She continues, “The elements that we were working in were not easy, shooting on a boat in open water for 14 hours, but never once did he complain.”

Adrift was filmed for 49 days, primarily on location in Fiji, with a few weeks on stage in New Zealand. About midway into production, Tami herself visited the set, making the cast feel that she truly embraced this film. Woodley adds, “It was amazing to finally meet her (Tami), but also, I was hyper-aware of how emotional this experience must be for her, the trauma of being stuck out at sea. My prayer is that she has found healing as well through this experience.”

Claflin also shares, “One of the first things she (Tami) said to me was, ‘You remind me of him (Richard) so much,’ which was really a special moment for me. Having her seal of approval was so important.”

Adrift, overall, was good drama film to make one think about how short life is and how everyone should make the most out of it with the people they love while they’re still here.

Adrift opened in cinemas on June 27, 2018.

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