Some Viewers May Want to Steer Clear of "Adrift"

In the summer of '83, Tami Oldham is making her way to … well, just about anywhere the next salty breeze might blow her. She really isn't concerned about the where. In fact, about five years before, the wandering twentysomething realized all she really needed in life was sunshine, beautiful surroundings, some surf, some sand and a job or two that would help her put back a few bucks for her next spur-of-the-moment trip. And that's the way it's been ever since.

"When you going back home?" she's asked. And she jauntily replies, "Maybe once I see the world." In this particular moment, though, she's enjoying Tahiti and a small job on a local pier. It's more than enough.

When Tami meets a kindred spirit named Richard, though, things take a sharp port-side veer. This good looking Englishman and his homemade boat blow into port. He and Tami meet, exchange a bit of smiling banter, and before you can holler, "Drop the mainsail," Tami's vagabond urges are tucked neatly away in her old duffel bag. Right beneath those wool socks she never wears.

Love blossoms. Hugs, kisses and dreams are exchanged. And Tami and Richard start talking about sailing 'round the world together. Richard regales her with stories about the miseries of sailing a small boat across the open ocean—the cold, the wet, the loneliness, the hunger, the hallucinations. And it all sounds so completely … wonderful.

Then a job falls in their laps. A wealthy couple is willing to pay them $10,000 to deliver a 44-foot yacht to California. It's a mere 4,000 mile trip, and in a few weeks they could earn enough to keep them traveling for a year.

It's perfect. It's idyllic. It's a done deal.

Until, that is, they encounter a massive storm, a tropical depression that leaves them broken and adrift in the middle of the Pacific Ocean … in the fall of '83.


Tami and Richard make numerous declarations of their love to each other. In fact, when Richard gets the offer to sail the yacht to California, he's initially ready to turn it down because Tami isn't sure she wants to return home to California. "I sailed halfway around the world to find you," Richard tells Tami. "I'm not leaving now." Tami returns the sentiment. In the midst of their long, painful ordeal adrift, she murmurs, "I wouldn't trade this for anything," if the alternative meant having never met Richard. We also see Richard propose and Tami accept.

There's no question that this pair spurs each other on to keep trying, keep hoping, no matter what. In fact, it's made plain that Tami's love for her fiancé drives her forward even when he's on the brink of succumbing to his injuries.


After smelling a particular flower's scent, Tami notes, "It's like God put those on Earth to mask the smell of burning trash." Twice during Tami and Richard's ocean journey, a dove lands on their boat, a seemingly symbolic spiritual message of hope.


In a flashback to happier times, Tami's body is on constant display as she's shown in skimpy swimsuits, bikinis, a low-cut dress and underwear. She and Richard embrace and kiss on numerous occasions. In one scene she jokingly pokes at Richard saying, "Why are you trying to have sex with me?"

After much trauma at sea, a scene shows Tami's naked, emaciated and bruised form from the back and briefly from the side (a shot that includes some breast nudity). In other moments, her braless anatomy is accentuated while she struggles against battering, cold blasts of sea water.


During the violent storm at sea, gigantic waves batter the small sailing yacht that Richard and Tami are desperately trying to navigate. Masts snap, sails tear, and the boat and its contents are crumpled and twisted.

Of course, that goes triple for the human passengers. The storm bashes both of them relentlessly. They're tossed around like rag dolls. After the fact, Tami has a bloody gash on her forehead and other large bruises and cuts on her arms and legs. She eventually sews the nasty laceration on her head together with a needle and thread.

Richard's right leg is horribly mangled. The camera repeatedly gazes at his gaping wounds and ravaged flesh. His torso is also swollen and bruised; he reports that he's broken several ribs. His condition worsens as infection riddles his leg and as he becomes less and less lucid due to a raging fever. Both Tami and Richard suffer as well from a lack of food combined with the sun's punishing rays, their skin mottled and their bodies gaunt.

Tami almost drowns on a few occasions. Once, she finds herself trapped beneath a sail in the water as she tries to detach it and the mast from the wrecked boat. Richard talks about the impact his mother's suicide (by hanging, he relates) had on him as a boy.


One f-word and two s-words join one or two uses each of "d--n" and "h---." God's name is misused four times and Jesus' name twice. The British crudity "bloody" is spit out once, too.


Tami smokes a marijuana joint. She and Richard drink wine, beer and champagne. Others imbibe as well. Tami tells a story about her mother taking her out to get totally drunk when she turned 16. Tami finds cigars onboard the yacht. We see her holding one, but she doesn't light up.


Tami gets violently ill on the deck of the crumpled yacht. She also hallucinates during her agonizing journey. While talking about parental strains during her childhood, Tami reports, "I heard a lot of things most girls never have to hear."


Adrift is one of those films that sails through some pretty major cinematic crosswinds. On one hand, it's a well-acted survival tale and love story. It's a pic that builds to a wind-whipped, perilous peak and showcases intense dedication, incredible self-sacrifice and heroic endurance.

On the other hand, this can be a very difficult film to watch at times. The stunningly realistic mainsail-snapping storm resolves itself in painful-looking and bloody, mangled-flesh ways. Then, the long weeks of starvation and physical torment can be truly miserable and gut-churning (even as that intensity is occasionally lessened with flashbacks to happier times).

Add in some brief nudity (albeit picturing Tami's admittedly battered body), barely clothed sensuality and a smattering of rough-edged language, and, well, you've got a perilous sea adventure that some potential viewers will want to navigate clear of.

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