This film was ruined for me by a positive review. It simply said “with a heartbreaking twist ending”. Okay, so it’s about a woman and her boyfriend on a boat that’s survived a storm. The most logical twist ending for that is; he’s been dead the whole time. Which turned out to be correct. I also knew it was based on a true story, so with him being dead, the other thing I could infer was that she made it out alive; otherwise how would anybody know about the story? She had to live because otherwise, they’d have nothing to base on a story on as they would have no idea what happened. This completely robbed the film of any tension what so ever. I knew she was going to survive, and I also knew that no matter what, what happens to him doesn’t matter as he’s already dead. This would have been okay if the film itself was spectacular enough for you to ignore it, but sadly it’s not. The scenes of them lost at sea are intercut with them meeting and preparing for the journey etc, the events leading up to the storm. I get why they did this as it meant that the audience wasn’t bored by a singular story (it’s REALLY hard to get a B-story in a film like this as what else can you really focus on that would still be relevant to the main story).
So yeah, I get why they did this, because of the aforementioned “breaking up the film” film, but also because it helped to build up their relationship. One problem; because a lot of the film was on the boat, this meant the build-up, i.e. their relationship, had to be developed REALLY quickly, and so it came off as forced and unnatural. They went from “hi” to being incredibly in love with each other in about 10 minutes of screen time, probably less than that. This undermined the entire film, the film isn’t really about them being STRANDED, it’s about THEM being stranded. But if you don’t buy into their relationship then the film loses its effectiveness. It doesn’t help that the leads don’t seem to have any chemistry so they don’t really make that believable a couple. Shame as both performers are really good and give it their all, but it’s just missing that certain spark, they don’t match for some reason. They are great in it though; Shailene Woodley has never looked worse, in a good way. The only thing I’ve seen her in before this was The Fault In Our Stars, a film where she starred as a cancer patient. She looked closer to death in this, which is a huge testament to the make up department and director. Sam Claflin, he’s also in this movie. But I couldn’t really focus on his performance as I was too busy thinking “where do I know him from?”. I’ve since gone through his filmography and I still have no idea. My best bet is from the trailer for Me Before You, if that’s the case then that trailer was well overplayed, especially considering the films I haven’t seen any trailers for.
So, should you see this film? I find it hard to recommend to be honest. There’s not much in this film that you haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s a great story to be told, but it’s just not told well enough. Compare this to The Impossible, that film was brilliantly directed and you felt danger in every scene, here, you just find yourself knowing things won’t matter. It does contain more Tom Waits than most films though, which is nice. And Woodley puts in a great performance. But other than that? Meh