Follow TV Tropes


Film / Adrift (2018)

Go To
Adrift is a 2018 film starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin.

In 1983 a young couple named Tami and Richard set off on a voyage in a small sailboat to cross the Pacific. Unfortunately their course leads them into one of the most powerful Pacific hurricanes in history. Now with their boat barely holding together and Richard gravely injured, Tami must find a way to get them to a position when they can be seen or make a call for help.

Not to be confused with the 2006's film of the same name. Or with the 2016's space-based exploration game Adr1ft.

This film contains examples of:

  • The '80s: The film takes place in 1983.
  • Artistic License Ships: Most likely used as a Rule of Drama, considering how many other things are done right. You trim, change or outright drop sails before entering the storm, not during it. The film shows what happens when you have too many of too big sails during a hurricane and how absurdly hard and dangerous it becomes to try to drop them in such conditions.
  • Based on a True Story: Of Tami Oldhan and Richard Sharp
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. As the days go on, Tami looks precisely as someone in such a situation would—progressively raw skin, weight loss, a nasty head injury. Richard's wounds also get nastier, though it turns out he isn't really there anyway.
  • Biblical Motifs: Tami realizes that she's approaching land when a bird alights onto the boat, just like in the story of Noah. After she reaches a freighter, the first thing they offer her is an apple.
  • Big "NO!": Tami upon realising Richard is nowhere on the boat and she was knocked out cold for God knows how long. (It was 27 hours in Real Life).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tami survived but Richard didn't. He was a hallucination the whole time.
  • Casting Gag: Elizabeth Hawthorne had previously starred in a Made-for-TV Movie also called Adrift.
  • Chekhov's Skill: It is thoroughly established Tami can sail on her own. She also meditates.
  • Cry Laughing: Tami, after returning to Richard's boat and finding the dried-up flower he gave her months ago, starts laughing while breaking down in tears.
  • Dead All Along: As the film progresses, we learn that Richard did not survive the hurricane, and that Tami was only talking to a vision of Richard from her own delirium.
  • Dead Person Conversation: It turns out that this is what Tami has been having with Richard.
  • Determinator: You don't go any more determined than sailing back to civilization on a derelict yacht with almost no supplies for 41 days. And doing it completely alone.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Perfect for patching holes in the yacht's side.
  • Empty Bedroom Grieving: Tami returns to Tahiti after being rescued and roams around Richard's now abandoned boat, reliving the good times they had there, and finally breaking down and crying over his death.
  • Fan Disservice: Shailene Woodley meditating nude—sunburned and covered with bruises.
  • Fight to Survive: What was to be a leisurely voyage across the Pacific to California turns into a nightmare after running into a hurricane.
  • Flat "What": After Richard explains his mother hanged herself when he was 7, Tami has such reaction.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: The official poster, as seen above.
  • Flowers of Romance: Richard gives Tami a flower to put in her hair, telling her which side she puts it on is important; right means she's on the market, but left means she's taken. She puts it on the left side.
  • Foregone Conclusion: People who know the true story and that Richard Sharp was lost at sea in real life will instantly figure out the twist.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When describing life at sea, Richard says after a few days is when the hallucinations start.
    • The very first thing we see is Richard's body sinking into the depths.
    • The injured Richard describes himself as "dead weight", implying that he wants Tami to perform a Mercy Kill so as to save herself. It turns out he's already dead and this is actually his ghost, or perhaps Tami's subconscious urging her to let go for the very same reason.
    • As the storm intensifies, Tami is nearly swept overboard at one point, only to be saved by Richard, minutes before he meets the same fate.
    • Tami's final flashback of the storm shows the moment the boat flipped over and Richard was not only swept overboard, but struck on the head. When we return to present day, she finally admits to herself that she's been hallucinating his presence the entire time.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: When they get caught in the storm, Richard and Tami are hit with a giant wave that flips the boat completely over. This is what kills him and cripples the boat.
  • Happy Rain: The happiest of them all, as it allows to replenish the scarce supply of freshwater and drink fill.
  • Helpful Hallucination: Tami's vision of Richard helps her keep her focus and drive long enough to reach help. It also gives her, at least from the audience's perspective, someone to talk to and act against.
  • Heroic BSoD: Tami has a minor one after seeing the freighter vanish and realizing she's hallucinating.
  • Hitchhiker Heroes: Both Tami and Rich are just going around the world, catching any chance and odd-job they can get along their travels.
  • How We Got Here: The story of Tami's journey is intermingled with flashbacks of her and Richard developing their relationship and how they got the job to sail the boat to California.
  • Hope Spot: About midway through, Tami sees a large freighter bearing down on them. Despite her attempts to get its attention, it sails on by with barely a ripple...then vanishes. It was never there.
  • In Medias Res: The story opens in the aftermath of the hurricane Raymond, but then cuts back and forth to prior events, leading ultimately to Tami struggling to get back to land.
  • Lost at Sea: The premise after the hurricane. And Richard's official status once Tami was rescued.
  • Match Cut: The opening shot of Richard's raincoat-clad body sinking into the depths of the ocean immediately segues into a shot of Tammy's similarly dressed, partly submerged body as the camera pans up to find her regaining consciousness.
  • Master of Your Domain: Downplayed, but still present. As a way of coping with hunger and thirst, Tami is shown meditating. It only helps this much, but she doesn't have many other options.
  • Meaningful Echo: During one of the flashbacks, a land bird alights into the boat. It's the first inkling of trouble when they realize how severe the wind must be to have carried it so far out to sea. Towards the end, it happens again, only this time, the wind is calm and Tami realizes that land is in sight and that her ordeal is over.
  • Mundane Luxury: The fresh apple in the end.
  • The Navigator: Since they are well off the beaten path for both sea and air travel, Tami has to use celestial navigation to get them back to civilization.
  • Nipple and Dimed: At one point, Tami is shown seemingly meditating naked on the deck from behind when it starts raining, prompting her to roll onto her back, giving a brief flash as she does.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Unlike in real life, Richard in film is clearly and visibly not tethered to the yacht. It ultimately kills him, along with the instance of Never Found the Body.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Several of the scenes of Tami taking care of Richard are shown again after it's shown she was hallucinating him the entire time, showing her talking to an empty bed.
  • Posthumous Character: Richard, both via the numerous flashbacks Tami has and what turns out to be a hallucination of him.
  • Rewatch Bonus: At one point, Tami hysterically begs Richard, "Tell me this isn't real. Maybe we're already dead. Richard tells her, "But you're not dead." Notice that he says "you're" rather than "we're", strongly implying that this is his ghost speaking instead of him.
  • Self-Surgery: Tami gets a pretty nasty gash on her forehead which she eventually stitches up using a mirror.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Rather than giving her an Informed Ability, the film spends quite some time in flashbacks showing how competent Tami is as a sailor, but also leaving just enough doubt about her skills.
  • Spoiler Opening: The very first thing shown on screen is Richard's lifeless body going down underwater, fast. Anyone paying even minimal attention will instantly realise what's up.
  • Talking to Themself: Both Richard and Tami are shown doing this quite a lot during flashbacks. This is also what she was doing for the entire time after the storm, since Richard wasn't really there.
  • Tap on the Head: Tami is struck on the head as the boat capsizes and knocked unconscious (in Real Life it was for 27 hours). When she regains consciousness, she has a nasty cut on her forehead and the revelation that she's been hallucinating Richard's presence ever since, might very well be due to whatever brain damage she received. Richard himself is struck on the head the same way and either killed outright or knocked out long enough for him to drown once he slips underwater.
  • Taught by Experience: Tami doesn't consider herself a sailor and definitely isn't certified, but she spent enough time along with other sailors to catch the gist of many complex operations and perform them on her own. She then sails with Richard for long enough to polish those skills.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Tami's mother is only 15 years older than her.
  • Thrill Seeker: Like pretty much every hobby sailor ever, Richard describes in detail all the nasty and horrible things coming with such a hobby. But when asked by Tami why he even bothers then, he without a blink describes the thrill it gives and the unique feeling that nothing else can fulfill.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal:
  • Watching the Sunset: At the start of their voyage, Richard and Tami are watching a brilliant red sunset. At least, Tami says it's red; Richard launches into a Purple Prose listing of all the various shades of red it could be. Mirrored later while they're drifting, since they don't have much to do anyway.
  • Wedding Ring Removal: At the very end, Tami takes off the engagement ring Richard made for her.
  • Wham Shot: Tami tells Richard, "I have to let you go", as if she's going to perform a Mercy Kill. She sits up... and his bed is empty, thus revealing that he was never there to begin with.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Discusses Tami's recovery and how she still loves to sail.
  • You Said You Couldn't Dance: Rich quickly calls Tami out on her confession she's no sailor when performing admirably on her own. She instantly points out she just had a lot of time watching actual sailors doing their job, but never was trained in any of this.