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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) couldn't anticipate they would be sailing directly into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. In the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to find Richard badly injured and their boat in ruins. With no hope for rescue, Tami must find the strength and determination to save herself and the only man she has ever loved.

Review by Louise Keller:
She is fearless; he is sensitive. They meet and fall love in Tahiti, watch a pomegranate sunset together and sail into a Category 4 hurricane. Based on a true story and adapted from Tami Oldham's book, Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur has created an intense, dramatic experience that grapples with extreme emotions - from elation to devastation. There is no middle ground. If the film can be represented on a canvas, it plays out with an artful blend of bright, primary colours merged with those that are dull and opaque, as the waves of love and life rise and fall with no mercy.

In a hypnotic performance, Shailene Woodley (The Descendents) embodies the essence of the free-spirited traveller with no destination, hungry to devour everything life has to offer. There is something credible and appealing about Woodley: she is not conventionally beautiful, yet she displays an inner beauty that encompasses truth and sensuality. We believe her. We believe in her. And we believe that she can do anything she sets her mind on. Her appeal, courage and can-do attitude are critical to our embracing the film, which plays out in high seas with high stakes.

Also critical is the chemistry between Woodley and Sam Claflin (Me Before You) as the British sailor who has come half way around the world to find her and is not about to let her go. Clafin is charismatic and charming, with the ability to make us understand that there is more to him than meets the eye. There is something personal and revealing about the scene of their first 'date', when Richard invites the vegetarian Tami for a fish dinner on his yacht. He explains 'the feeling of being reborn': the trophy he seeks from sailing.

The narrative plays out in a series of flashbacks that canvasses their casual meeting and romance punctuated by the flower of love (a frangipani) and a dress the colour of a mermaid. Then there are the circumstances that lead them to sail the 44 ft yacht to San Diego, Tami's hometown. Where she hoped never to return.

Like a pendulum, the tension swings back and forth before it reaches a tumultuous crescendo with the arrival of the hurricane. The colour palette changes. The boat moans as it pitches on the edges of massive waves that loom like liquid walls of steel. The lack of visibility and deafening sound of the waves crashing on the deck are terrifying. The music is as murky as the water as we become submerged in these devastating moments. It is hard to breathe.

Courage, grit and determination are the themes of this story of survival. It's an engrossing film, filled with spirit and a sense of living for the moment.

Interesting to note that most of the sailing sequences are shot in the cerulean waters of Fiji; the extreme hurricane scenes shot on stages in New Zealand and seamlessly enhanced by visual effects.

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(US, 2018)

CAST: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Grace Palmer, Jeffrey Thomas, Elizabeth Hawthorne

PRODUCER: Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, Baltasar Kormakur, Ralph Winter, Shailene Woodley

DIRECTOR: Baltasar Kormakur

SCRIPT: Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, David Branson Smith (book by Tami Ashcroft)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Richardson

EDITOR: John Gilbert

MUSIC: Volker Bertelmann

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Heimir Sverrisson

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes



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