WRITTEN BY: Morgan O'Neill
DIRECTED BY: Ben Nott, Morgan O'Neill
STARRING: Myles Pollard, Xavier Samuel, Sam Worthington, Lesley Ann-Brandt
RATING: 3 stars
Maybe it is because Drift was filmed in my home state that I automatically had an affinity with it. Filmed in Western Australia's beautiful South West region including Margaret River, Augusta, Gracetown and Nannup, Drift first screened at the Margaret River Pro for the international surfing crowd and was received positively. Seeing it for myself, I realised why. Unlike a lot of other "surfing movies" that are tacky, or others that are so technical they cannot reach a wider audience than surfers, Drift has a decent plot, good acting and some great cinematography that captures the surf.
Drift is inspired by the true story of Australia’s famous surf communities and the rise of global surf brands during the 60's and 70's such as Billabong and Rip Curl. As youngsters, the Kelly brothers - Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) and Andy (Myles Pollard) - and their mother escape an abusive home and want to start a new life. They travel from Victoria to WA and settle in a remote Australian coastal town. Years later, they are still there working too hard, not making enough money and barely having enough time to enjoy their passion of surfing. So the Kellys decide to open up a surf shop. They make some new friends along the way, including free-spirit photographer JB (Sam Worthington) and Hawaiian girl Lani (Lesley-Ann Brandt), who help start up their business. But they also encounter several hurdles such as financial pressure from a bank and ruthless bikers over a drug debt.
The plot is at times predictable, but it is nonetheless entertaining. A lot of embarrassing Aussie slang is also avoided thanks to writer and co-director Morgan O'Neill and when it is used it feels authentic. At the heart of the story, which is essentially a sport/surf film, is the brotherly love between Andy and Jimmy. They are fiercely protective of each other but they are also very competitive, which causes friction. The sibling rivalry is depicted well and they have great chemistry together.
Pollard is perhaps a little too old for the role, but it is not embarrassingly noticeable. He gives a strong performance as the protagonist. Samuel is building quite a resume for himself in the past two years and his performance in Drift should do well to propel him further in Hollywood. Worthington has been less than impressive in recent films, but his performance in Drift is a return to form. He is so much better when he does not have to put on an American accent. Brandt's character is intriguing but ultimately undeveloped, which is a shame. But she's a stunning "beach babe" and looks a lot like a young Halle Berry.
Drift is not an amazing film, but if you like family drama, surfing and beautiful cinematography, then you should probably see it.