Reviewed by: Samiatu Dosunmu—first time reviewer
storms at sea
Does God control the weather? Does He ever send deadly storms? Answer
Wind and Wind Storms in the Bible
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
How did the BAD THINGS in our world come into being? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
What is Christian LOVE? Answer
Shailene Woodley … Tami Oldham
Sam Claflin … Richard Sharp
Grace Palmer … Deb
Jeffrey Thomas … Peter
Elizabeth Hawthorne … Christine
Tami Ashcraft … Herself
Siale Tunoka … Customs Agent
Zac Beresford … Shopper
Kael Damlamian … Smiley
Luna Campbell … Tahitian Paddler
|Director:||Baltasar Kormákur—“Everest” (2015), “2 Guns” (2013), “Contraband” (2012)|
|Producer:||Huayi Brothers [Hong Kong, China]
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Review updated June 14, 2018
“Adrift” is based on the incredible and tragic story of real life woman Tami Olden Ashcraft. Viewers are introduced to Tami as she wakes up from a comatose state at the bottom of a yacht almost completely submerged in water. She immediately searches for Richard Sharp, her fiancée, but he is nowhere to be found. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Tami falls to her knees and begins to cry.
The story is told through a series of flashbacks from the beginning of the relationship to present day. Set in the summer of 1983, 24-year-old California native Tami Olden, arrives in Tahiti after working as a cook on a boat. An avid adventurer with no immediate plans, she states, “I am just trying to make enough money to move on to the next job.” One day, she meets 34-year-old Richard Sharp, a British sailor, docking his boat (the Mayaluga). Although their first encounter is casual, it is clear from the start that they share a mutual attraction towards each other. It is not long before this becomes evident as they embark on a relationship.
Awhile later, Richard and Tami encounter a wealthy couple, acquaintances of Richard. They offer him a job: a 4000 mile journey, sailing their 44-foot luxurious yacht from Tahiti to San Diego. At first, Tami is reluctant to accompany Richard, expressing that she does not want to be known as his companion on his adventures. Richard assures her that he will not accept the job unless she comes with him; he explains to Tami that she is important to him, “I’ve sailed halfway around the world to find you.” With that promise, Tami agrees to accompany Richard.
Before Tami sets sail, she writes to her mom expressing her excitement about the journey and reflecting on her feelings for Richard. She concludes the letter declaring that he is the one for her; she is completely in love with him. Days later, they set sail in the Pacific Ocean on what they hope will be a promising and fun-filled adventure.
Two weeks into their voyage, Tami and Richard sail into a hurricane. Through radio communication, they learn that it is a Category 4. As they try to out sail the storm, they realize they are off course. They learn that the hurricane is now at Category 5. After trying to secure the sail and steer through the storm, a massive wave arises and crashes on the yacht—capsizing it.
As I watched the storm on screen, I could not help but think of the story of Noah. In Genesis 6, we find that God is disappointed and has lost all hope in humanity . As the population multiplies, so did the level of sin. Genesis 6:6-7 explains:
“And the Lord God regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So, the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens for I am sorry that I made them.’”
Noah was spared because he was a righteous man and found favor in the Lord’s eyes. He did as he was instructed, which was to build an ark, where his wife, his children, their wives, along with reprentative animals would all be protected to repopulate the world. God flooded the entire Earth. When natural disasters happen, I cannot help but be in awe at the mightiness and power of our sovereign God. In 2 Peter 3:6-7, Peter references the universality of the flood,
“By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
A.B. Simpson once wrote,
“The only way to know strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm through severe testing.”
This is true; we must go through trials to build character, confidence and resilience. As humans, believers or not, we all go through trials. Many times, trials can feel like a hurricane as massive as the one Tami and Richard faced. The book of Lamentations accurately describes the emotions associated with facing trials:
“He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked.” —Lamentations 3:7-9
The author of Lamentations is not speaking of a torturous God, but rather the depth of human resilience. Tami floated adrift in the Pacific Ocean for 41 days with little rations. Yet, she clung to the hope that she would survive and be rescued. The love of God is around us; as Christians we recognize His love is the true hope.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” —Lamentations 3:22-24
Some reviewers praise this film, arguing that it is a true testament to the human spirit. Tami’s instincts allowed her to survive by relying on her navigational knowledge, eating peanut butter for nourishment, setting up a rig system to drink clean water and clinging to memories of Richard. However, was God present? Yes, He was.
God’s control over everything is called the sovereignty of God. Man cannot influence God: he does what he pleases and everything that happens is either caused or controlled by God for his own perfect purpose. This is evident in Isaiah 14:24:
“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand.”
There is no such thing as random or coincidental; it is all design by God. Isaiah 46:10 states,
“I make known the end from the beginning, from the ancient times, what still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
What happened to Tami was meant to happen. The question some ask is, “If there is a God, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?”
• Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
• What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
• Does God feel our pain? Answer
As Christians, we know that “the LORD is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” —Psalms 34:15
Tami credits Richard for helping her survive her ordeal. He taught her survival methods that she used to pull herself through. In retrospect, Tami’s meeting Richard was no accident; it was part of God’s plan. Knowing this, we can feel comforted by the fact that He puts people in our life for a reason, a season and time—all for the greater good. God’s love and promise is not exclusive to believers. Quite the contrary, he loves humanity, whether we always credit him or not. However, he wants us to acknowledge Him; He is patiently waiting. His Word states,
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” —2 Peter 3:9
To trust God and surrender to His complete control requires faith and getting to know Him through His Word, the Bible. Daniel 11:32b says, “The people that know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.” We can rejoice in our God’s sovereignty, because it is overshadowed by His goodness, love, mercy, compassion, faithfulness and holiness.
NUDITY: While adrift, Tami is shown meditating naked on the upper deck of the damaged boat. She is also shown from a distance lying nude on deck. The night after she meets Richard, Tami is seen lying in bed, dressed only in panties and a tank top—her bare buttock visible. She wears wet t-shirts with nothing underneath and also also wears a bikini in various situations, including sunbathing. She is also shown wearing only a dirty shirt and panties—midway through the movie and at the end.
SEX: The couple kiss repeatedly. There are suggestive sexual comments indicating their desire for each other. As Tami takes care of an injured Richard, she feeds him peanut butter with her fingers, then eats the same from her fingers while making moaning sounds. She mentions that her mom was “knocked up,” delivering Tami at age 15.
From the moment Tami and Richard meet, it is love at first sight. Their commitment toward each other progresses very quickly. Although we do not see them having intimate relations, it is clearly insinuated. If choosing to watch this film, Christians should be concerned that Tami and Richard spend a lot of time alone together. The next day after they meet, they set sail alone on a small excursion. The following day, they go hiking, jump off a cliff and swim to a beach. It is while on the beach that they share their first kiss, with Richard holding on to Tami as he lies on the sand and rolls her on him in an embrace. Despite loving each other, the Bible clearly states that sex or any form of strong intimacy is only blessed within the confines of marriage (Genesis 1:28). 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 states,
“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps in agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Today, many will argue that what was perceived as wrong in biblical times does not apply to today’s standards. This is false and a deception of The Enemy. Many are willing to accept that lust, murder, idolatry, etc., are wrong, but not unmarried sex, as it is an expression of love between two people. Again, this is false. The Bible is very clear that sexual immorality is a sin:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexual immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” —1 Corinthians 6:9
In short, sin is sin, and it is not up to us to categorize which sin is more severe than another.
Tami and Richard’s feelings toward each other are very deep, to the point that Richard proposes to Tami five days into their voyage. They believe that they are meant to be together forever, because of their passionate love affair. However, the reality is that their relationship is unequally yoked. Their intimacy is outside the confines of marriage:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” —Genesis 2:24
Some may argue that God understands, because their relationship is good. 1 John 2:3-4 addresses this,
PROFANITY: As a Christian, the misuse of our Lord’s name is offensive to me. Aside from the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:7), the Bible clearly states that the use of the Lord’s name either in an insulting context or pronouncing an oath mentioning God’s name with no intention of honoring that oath is sinful and blasphemous in the eyes of God. “Adrift” includes nine instances where the Lord’s name is used in vain: “Oh my G*d” (5), “Oh my G*d” (7) “Oh Chr*st,” “Oh dear G*d,” “Oh God”. There are also two misues of the word “Hell” and one “damn.”
VULGARITY: f-word, “freaking,” s-word (2), and “bloody”
Overall, I found the story strong and a testament to Joshua 1:9, “Be courageous in everything that you do.” However, viewers should be mindful of the concerns raised.
In closing, Tami Olden Ashcraft shares that it took her five years to come to terms with the events of the summer of 1983. She wrote a self-published memoir entitled Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.