by D. Otoni
DRIFT movie review
Ever get stoked riding waves on Jacksonville Beach? The thrill of feeling a surging mass of water beneath your feet is one that you’ll long remember. There have been plenty of surf movies over the years. Most have been quasi-documentaries like Endless Summer, Fantastic Plastic Machine, In God’s Hand have and have chronicled wave fever and shown places most of us can’t find on a world globe, let alone ever get to surf there.
Every once in a while a filmmaker has the moxey to mix in a good story line for your viewing patience like Point Break and craft an inside glimpse into the surf culture. At the AMC Regency Theatre you’ll be able to experience Drift. Set in breathtaking locations and inspired by the true story of Australia’s legendary Drift Surfwear moguls, the film chronicles the rise of surf brands and the expansion of the laidback surf attitude as a global lifestyle.
In the 1970s. The Kelly brothers, Andy (Myles Pollard) and Jimmy (Xavier Samuel), have one great passion: riding big waves. As kids, their mother escaped an abusive marriage from Sydney, Australia to Margaret River, a sleepy coastal town with some of the world’s most challenging and dangerous waves. For the next 12 years, the boys honed their surfing skills, always searching for the perfect ride. Free-spirited Jimmy is a gifted surfer and innovator but he starts to slip toward a life of small time crime to help the family out of looming debt. Older brother Andy makes a big decision to alter the close knit family’s financial future. Quitting a stable job, he bets on Jimmy’s surf inventions and his own business skills and launches a backyard surf gear business. They rethink board design, craft homemade wetsuits and sell their merchandise out of their van.
Encouraged by their new friends, travelling bohemian surf photographer and filmmaker JB (Sam Worthington) and his gorgeous daughter Hawaiian surfer, Lani (Lesley-Ann Brandt), who stirs the two brothers’ hearts, they start to seek ways to expand their brand and stay true to their coveted lifestyle.
Pollard and Samuel, both well-known Aussie TV heartthrobs, have a charismatic charm that is not wasted in their roles as brothers who are bonded through a love of surfing and a drive to compete both in business and the shore breaks. They handle their roles with convincing bravado and alluring recklessness that filmmaker Morgan O’Neall uses effectively and resists the temptation to over indulge their obvious on-screen charms. The pair comes across as the genuine article and not just actors playing buffed beach creatures.
The real star if this film is the breathtaking cinematography producing captivating surf photography that will leave you tasting the salt water spray. Shots from inside barrel tubes of twelve foot Australian waves have an authentic feel and will stir the passion of any wave rider who ever paddled out.
Whereas the script by O’Neall isn’t a great theatrical masterpiece, it serves its purpose well framing the dynamic waves shots with a storyline that is somewhat interesting and keeps you entertained waiting on the next big wave scene to fill the screen.
All in all, this surf film from “down under” will have you jonesing for the next day of descent swells, even if they won’t include 15-20 foot sets of perfect waves.