‘Adrift’ Film Review: Shailene Woodley Helps Steer Fact-Based Tale of Sea Survival

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Hollywood has had a fairly predictable approach to the combination of boat, sun, sea and starlet, and that is to emphasize skin over substance, and leave the derring-do to the men. But that equation has been getting reworked of late, and the endurance grit of women has edged to the forefront. There are, of course, the shark ordeals both real (“Soul Surfer”) and popcorn-flavored (“The Shallows,” “47 Meters Down”), the gender-equal action ethos of James Cameron (“The Abyss,” “Titanic”), and Disney’s sumptuously empowering Polynesian girl adventure “Moana.”

But the one genre that’s eluded showcasing a strong woman is the lost-at-sea yarn, which has given us memorable adventures in this young century for Tom Hanks (“Castaway”), Robert Redford (“All Is Lost”), and an Indian boy paired with a digital tiger (“Life of Pi”), while largely avoiding stranding a female in open waters for an existentially punishing length.

Until “Adrift,” that is. The poster, which features Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin beatifically touching foreheads, would have you think it’s a rays-and-sprays love affair gone wandering. And yes, it’s a romance, but the title is also literal.

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The story is a true one, based on the incredible saga of Tami Oldham Ashcraft: In 1983, at the age of 23, she left Tahiti with fiancé Richard Sharp on a yacht they’d intended to sail to San Diego, only to get caught in a nasty hurricane that forced Ashcraft — the only one physically capable after the initial impact — to keep the damaged craft afloat for 41 days. (Ashcraft wrote a memoir of their experience, from which the movie is based, called “Red Sky in Mourning.”)

Woodley is the film’s boating hero, but behind the scenes it’s manned, pardon the pun, by disaster-survival specialist Baltasar Kormákur, who last gave us the mountain-peril epic “Everest,” and previously waded into shipwreck territory with his Norwegian fisherman drama “The Deep.” Here, he’s well-primed to combine white-knuckle seafaring scenes with swooning stars and picturesque locations, but there’s a choppiness in the overall dramatic pull that — despite the surface appeal of the stars and Kormákur’s and cinematographer Robert Richardson’s visuals — keeps “Adrift” from making true waves.

A gripping opener shows promise, however, with Woodley’s Tami waking from unconsciousness to be confronted with a flooded yacht, a broken mast, a missing boyfriend, and a view of only horizon, water, and sky. From there, the screenplay by Aaron and Jordan Kandell and David Branson Smith jumps back five months to when Tami was an itinerant Southern California surfer gal flitting around the South Seas doing odd jobs, and Richard a charming, well-traveled British sailor who, upon meeting Tami, sees a kindred spirit when it comes to tackling life as an adventure.

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Woodley, whose vibe has always been an appealing combination of awkward independence and golly-gee hippie, naturally needs to do little to convince us that her Tami is both energized by traversing the seas with a new love and skittish about anything resembling an obligation or a return home. Both those emotions certainly come into play when Richard accepts an offer from a friendly English married couple (Jeffrey Thomas and Elizabeth Hawthorne) to sail their yacht from Tahiti to San Diego for a sum that could finance a lot of romantic travel. But togetherness wins out until, a couple of weeks into their journey, Hurricane Raymond makes it an unwelcome threesome.

Perhaps fearful that audiences wouldn’t want a movie split evenly between budding romance on the front end and waterborne psychodrama past the halfway point, “Adrift” opts for a chronological toggling between the happy build-up — meeting cute, dining cuter, sailing cutest — and scenes on the wrecked Hazana in which Tami must overcome fear and doubt to steer her and a severely wounded Richard to safety.

Also Read: Shailene Woodley Mulls Congressional Run: ‘I’m Not Going to Rule it Out’

But the gimmick also acts as something of a sentimentalized crutch, especially when there’s genuine drama in watching Tami making repairs, swimming for food, learning how to use a sextant — in other words, realizing her life-saving potential as the captain of her own destiny.

But when the real reason for the narrative structure of “Adrift” is revealed at the end — hinted at early in the film for the eagle-eyed, and which won’t be news to anyone familiar with Ashcraft’s story — there’s bound to be as many eyes rolling upwards as shedding tears. Twists have already become an overused tool in thrillers and horror movies; heaven help us all if they start invading romances, much less true-life tales with already breathtaking elements that don’t need a screenwriter’s augmenting.

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Independent Spirit Awards: The Complete Winners List (Updating Live)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Get Out” emerged as the big winner of the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards, held Saturday on the beach in Santa Monica, Ca.

Jordan Peele’s racially charged thriller — which captivated the country and became an unlikely indie blockbuster — took Best Feature at the annual show put up by Film Independent. Peele also took Best Director.

Top acting prizes went to Frances McDormand for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and Timothee Chalamet for “Call Me by Your Name.” Best Supporting Male went to Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards,” and Best Supporting Female went to Allison Janney of “I, Tonya.” That makes it a virtual clean sweep for the latter two actors on the eve of the Academy Awards.

Also Read: Kroll and Mulaney Roast Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Kevin Spacey in Spirit Awards Monologue

Greta Gerwig won Best Screenplay for her coming-of-age darling “Lady Bird,” while Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani took Best First Screenplay for their autobiographical comedy “The Big Sick.”

Notable below-the-line prizes went to Tatiana S. Riegel, who took Best Editing for
“I, Tonya.”  Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, director of photography on “Call Me by Your Name,” won Best Cinematography.

Comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney (“Big Mouth,” “Oh, Hello”) returned to host the ceremony, an annual splashy gathering of Hollywood stars and indie film luminaries willing to brave the natural lighting of  a rare daytime awards show.

Also Read: Independent Spirit Awards: In a Stormy Year, It’s Up to Jordan Peele to Keep the Streak Alive

The complete winners list:

“Call Me by Your Name”
“The Florida Project”
“Get Out” *WINNER
“Lady Bird”
“The Rider”

“Ingrid Goes West,” Director Matt Spicer *WINNER 
“Oh Lucy!”
“Patti Cake$”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. (Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)
“A Ghost Story”
“Life and nothing more” *WINNER
“Most Beautiful Island”
“The Transfiguration”

Sean Baker, “The Florida Project”
Jonas Carpignano, “A Ciambra”
Luca Guadagnino, “Call Me by Your Name”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out” *WINNER
Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, “Good Time”
Chloé Zhao, “The Rider”

Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” *WINNER
Azazel Jacobs, “The Lovers”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
Mike White, “Beatriz at Dinner”

Kris Avedisian, Kyle Espeleta, Jesse Wakeman, “Donald Cried”
Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani, “The Big Sick” *WINNER
Ingrid Jungermann, “Women Who Kill”
Kogonada, “Columbus”
David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer, “Ingrid Goes West”

Thimios Bakatakis, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Elisha Christian, “Columbus”
Hélène Louvart, “Beach Rats”
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, “Call Me by Your Name” *WINNER
Joshua James Richards, “The Rider”

Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, “Good Time”
Walter Fasano, “Call Me by Your Name”
Alex O’Flinn, “The Rider”
Gregory Plotkin, “Get Out”
Tatiana S. Riegel, “I, Tonya” *WINNER

Salma Hayek, “Beatriz at Dinner”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” *WINNER
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Shinobu Terajima, “Oh Lucy!”
Regina Williams, “Life and nothing more”

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name” *WINNER
Harris Dickinson, “Beach Rats”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Robert Pattinson, “Good Time”

Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya” *WINNER
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Lois Smith, “Marjorie Prime”
Taliah Lennice Webster, “Good Time”

Nnamdi Asomugha, “Crown Heights”
Armie Hammer, “Call Me by Your Name”
Barry Keoghan, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” *WINNER
Benny Safdie, “Good Time”

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast

Director: Dee Rees
Casting Directors: Billy Hopkins, Ashley Ingram
Ensemble Cast: Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Carey Mulligan

“The Departure”
“Faces Places” *WINNER
“Last Men in Aleppo”

“BPM (Beats Per Minute)”
“A Fantastic Woman” *WINNER
“I Am Not a Witch”
“Lady Macbeth”

Chloé Zhao *WINNER


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‘Ingrid Goes West’: Neon Founders Discuss Sundance Bidding War for Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen Instagram Stalker Pic (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza wore the same black and gold dress to the L.A. premiere of their two-hander “Ingrid Goes West” Thursday night, poking fun at the life-stalking-via-Instagram plot of their dark comedy that won over the Arclight Hollywood crowd with the same “rapturous reception” that it got at Sundance this past January.

Also Read: ‘Ingrid Goes West’ Sundance Review: Aubrey Plaza Is a Social-Media Stalker to Relish

As TheWrap reported from Sundance at the time, “‘Ingrid Goes West’ follows Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) a mentally unstable young woman who becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane (Olsen), a social media ‘influencer’ with a seemingly-perfect life in Venice, California. When Ingrid decides to drop everything, and move to the west coast to befriend Taylor in real life, her behavior turns unsettling and increasingly dangerous.”

Neon’s Tim League, actors Billy Magnussen and Aubrey Plaza, director Matt Spicer, actor Elizabeth Olsen, and Neon’s Tom Quinn at the Arclght in Hollywood on July 27, 2017. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Also Read: O’Shea Jackson Jr. on How His Batman Obsession Landed Him Role in ‘Ingrid Goes West’ (Video)

The dark comedy drew consistent laughs from the packed house at the Arclight’s Theatre 10 on Thursday night, with co-stars Pom Klementieff and the standout Billy Magnussen joining the procession of star talent.

O’Shea Jackson Jr. is off shooting a “big Hollywood movies,” per director Matt Spicer, and could not make it.

Before the screening, Neon founders  Tim League and Tom Quinn addressed the audience, beer in hand. They revealed how anxious they were to convince Plaza (who also produced the film), Spicer, and the team from CAA to sell them the U.S. distribution rights.

“We’re having this conversation (after the Friday night screening at Sundance), I’m very nervous, we’re trying to do our best and express our love of this film, ” League said. “We’re realizing that these guys are so damn smart. They know how to market this film.”

League turned to his colleague Quinn and said, “We have to work with these guys.” They rolled out their best offer and the rest is history.

Quinn and League also shouted out strategist Darin Pfeiffer, who produced the L.A. premiere that swamped the Arclight plaza.

For a peek inside the theater, watch the full  introductions above, including Plaza and Olsen vamping in their matching attire.

Also Read: Neon Acquires Sundance Hip Hop Biopic ‘Roxanne Roxanne’

After the screening guests — including Chris Pratt, Darren Criss, RJ Mitte and singer Inas-X — headed over to Avenue for the party. (Pratt got a taste of being hunted himself, fending off a professional autograph hound following him as he walked down Sunset Boulevard.)

Clothing designer Kelly Cole spun the after party, where Svedka and Kim Crawford wines were poured.

Neon releases “Ingrid Goes West” on Aug. 11 in New York and Los Angeles, before platforming to other markets throughout the rest of the summer.

Writer’s Disclaimer: The co-screenwriter, David Branson Smith, and I worked together on an unscripted TV project over 10 years ago.  That has nothing to do with the reason why I think “Ingrid Goes West” is going to be  a breakout movie of the summer. 

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Neon Acquires Sundance Award Winner ‘Beach Rats’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Tom Quinn and Tim League’s upstart distribution label Neon has acquired the Sundance hit “Beach Rats.’

The intense cruising drama landed Eliza Hittman the festival’s directing award in the U.S. Dramatic competition at the annual award ceremony held on Saturday.

“Beach Rats” stars British import Harris Dickinson as a lost middle-class youth in Brooklyn with a dying father, a tentative new romance with a young girl and a late-night habit of cruising for older men online. UTA represented the filmmakers in the deal.

Also Read: 2017 Sundance Film Festival Awards: The Complete Winners List (Updating Live)

The film elicited strong reactions during its screenings and subsequent Q&A’s — even former First Daughter Malia Obama saw it during an under-the-radar trip to the festival.

Neon also scooped up the female hip-hop drama “Roxanne, Roxanne” and the Aubrey Plaza-Elizabeth Olsen film “Ingrid Goes West” at Sundnace — both award winners on Saturday for breakthrough performance for star Chante Adams and screenwriting for Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith, respectively.

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‘Ingrid Goes West’ Acquired by Neon at Sundance

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

After a number of competitive bids Tom Quinn and Tim League’s new distribution banner, Neon, have acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Sundance breakout, “Ingrid Goes West,” following the world premiere on Friday night.

Directed by Matt Spicer and starring Aubrey Plaza (“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” “Parks and Recreation”) and Elizabeth Olsen (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene”).

Based on a script by Spicer and David Branson Smith, the dark comedy also stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, and Pom Klementieff.

Also Read: Power Outage at Sundance Fest Theater, Screenings There Cancelled

“Ingrid Goes West” follows Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) a mentally unstable young woman who becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane (Olsen), a social media “influencer” with a seemingly-perfect life. When Ingrid decides to drop everything, and move to the west coast to befriend Taylor in real life, her behavior turns unsettling and increasingly dangerous.

“Ingrid Goes West” marks Spicer’s feature directorial debut. He recently co-wrote Flower, along with Max Winkler who will also direct. The film is a twisted coming-of-age comedy starring Zoey Deutch, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Tim Heidecker, which Spicer will also produce alongside Rough House Pictures and Diablo Entertainment. Along with Winkler, Spicer will write the recently announced Rocketeer sequel for Disney.

Star Thrower Entertainment and 141 Entertainment financed and produced.

Producers include Jared Ian Goldman, Star Thrower Entertainment’s Tim and Trevor White, 141 Entertainment’s Adam and Robert Mirels, and Aubrey Plaza.

Also Read: Buzzy Sundance Doc ‘Step’ Follows High School Squad’s Rise Above Odds (Video)

Mary Solomon, Rick Rickertsen and Allan Mandelbaum executive produced.

CAA represented the US rights and negotiated the deal.

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