We’re told that the new surf adventure/drama from Australian, Drift, is a fictional account of a story based on real events. One has to ask whether the real story was more interesting than its big screen counterpart. While the scenes among the ocean waves are superbly filmed and quite captivating, everything that happens on dry land is surprisingly dull.
Drift begins promisingly. The setting is
What follows is a strangely ordinary set of events dealing with how the two young men, Andy (Myles Pollard) and his younger brother, Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) try to get a small surfing business off the ground. They build surf boards, design custom-made wetsuits and attempt to generate enough interest to make their small cottage industry a success. The conflicts include a bank manager who doesn’t see the potential and withholds a loan and a drug dealing biker gang who generally gets in the way, and that’s basically it.
The small business that the brothers set up is called Drift and there’s one simple philosophy. “When there’s surf, we surf,” instructs older brother, Andy. “When it’s flat, we work!”
The most interesting character development is the arrival of surf filmmaker JB (Sam Worthington) and his attractive Hawaiian associate Lani (South African actor Lesley-Ann Brandt) who pull up on the beach in their 60’s looking psychedelic microbus with the words ‘Nowhere Fast’ painted on the front. It’s not that either of the characters are particularly noteworthy, they simply inject a little added color to the proceedings by just being there. Plus, by introducing us to two new outsiders, the stodgy screenplay by Morgan O’Neill gets a chance to explore an extra conflict or two revolving around the affections of the American girl and the two brothers.
The dialog is full of sage advice. At any given point there always seems to be someone giving older brother Andy a pearl of wisdom. “The trouble with the last man standing is you’ve got no one to share it with,” says Hawaiian Lani. JB’s easy-going life style advice is even simpler. “We adapt, we survive, we move on,” he says. Then there’s mom (Robyn Malcolm) who tells her boy that, “A real fighter knows when to stand their ground and when to walk away.”
When the film takes to the ocean, however, things are different. The film displays its real reason for being, and that’s to show how exciting, dangerous and wonderfully cinematic huge, rolling waves appear on a wide canvass. The moments of surf are quite inspiring.
Peppered with a lively soundtrack of 70s hits including The Glitter Band’s remake of Rock ‘N Roll Part 2 and 20th Century Boy from T.Rex, Drift suffers from a thin plot full of the kind of conflicts seen many times before with nothing new or particularly interesting to add. The birth of the Australian surf culture as a commercial industry doesn’t sound like a great idea for the basis of a movie plot, and it’s not, but at least it gives the filmmakers a chance to show the occasional moment of great Aussie (pronounced Ozzy) surfing action and it’s here where, if only for a few minutes at a time, the movie has a chance to shine.
MPAA Rating: R Length: 113 Minutes Overall Rating: 5 (out of 10)
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