Film Review: Adrift (2010)

on Friday, November 19, 2010
Words: Saam Das

'Adrift' (UK Release: 19 Nov '10)

Director: Heitor Dhalia
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Camilla Belle, Debora Bloch, Laura Neiva

Having made the rounds at Cannes Film Festival 2009, where it competed for Un Certain Regard, Heitor Dhalia's beautiful film 'Adrift' finally gets its UK release today. It is a beautiful film in several regards, particularly in terms of its majestic visuals, which provide such a vivid palette of colours and scenery that you cannot help but feel immersed in its sun-kissed Brazilian setting.

'Adrift' examines the story of one family's summer holiday at their beach house in the small coastal town of B├║zios. The always brilliant Vincent Cassel is on hand as doting father, Mathias, while his caustic wife, Clarice, is played by Debora Bloch. With the focus largely centering on the perspective of their 14 year old daughter, Filippa, played remarkably well by newcomer Laura Neiva, the film is very much a coming-of-age story.

However, the film's focus shifts between her growing sexuality and the ever deepening sexual and romantic void between her parents. As that relationship begins to crumble, with rife infidelity and abuse of alcohol, we see how this affects Filippa, and the family unit as a whole.

The journey of discovery that Filippa goes through demonstrates that not everything is quite as obvious as it can initially seem. The person who Filippa sees as responsible for the breakdown of her parents' marriage becomes a two sided coin - on one hand, her icon, on the other, her nemesis. She even seems to become confused herself when boys start to show an interest, both thrilled at her new found sexual power but also muddled in how best to exploit her dominance. As expected, we discover growing up is difficult, paralleling the difficulty of maintaining stability in marriage and the familial dynamic.

The seemingly endless shots of the sea become somewhat distracting but as the tides of conflict rage on during 'Adrift', the occasional sight of waves crashing onto rocks appears increasingly poignant. Fittingly, the film begins and ends with water-based scenes, with Filippa and Mathias floating along in the sea, perhaps hoping that once again they can float along happily in life.

Unfortunately, 'Adrift' lacks the emotional oomph that its expressive visuals deserve but in many respects, this is a quite stunning film. Indeed, the visual work of writer-director Heitor Dhalia and cinematographer Ricardo Della Rosa is worth the price of admission alone. All the more so on these bitterly cold and dark evenings.

'Adrift' is on limited release throughout the UK from today.

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