Fuelled by the drama of debt, drugs and societal standards, Drift tells the true story of how surfing evolved from a hobby into an international industry back in the 1970s.
Set in a remote town on Australia’s spectacularly rugged western coastline, Drift follows Andy Kelly (Myles Pollard) and younger brother Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) on their journey from mere surfers to pioneers of the modern surf industry.
Free-spirited Jimmy is a gifted surfer and innovator, but slowly slips towards the seductive potential of crime to help his family out of debt. Headstrong Andy believes wholeheartedly in his brother’s surf inventions and takes a big risk, backing his own skills as a businessman by opening a backyard surf shop.
Sam Worthington, the biggest name in the film, steals the show with his portrayal of surf photographer and rule-breaking hippy JB. At this week’s premiere in Bondi, Pollard, who also produced Drift, joked they could’t afford stunt doubles on the movie “because of Worthington’s fee”.
It looks as though the boys were quite comfortable in the water themselves, apparently performing at least 70 per cent of their own stunts. The fearlessness of the actors, teamed with the beautiful cinematography of co-directors Ben Nott and Morgan O’Neill, makes Drift comparable to professional surf films.
The beach scenes peak with thunderous sound, making the audience feel as though it is right there inside the barrel with the surfers.
It may just be the way they spoke in the 1970s, but sometimes the speedy dialogue and different inflections of the actors were hard to follow. The soundtrack eases the problem with a blend of classics and new triple j tracks. It isn’t overpowering, often leaving the audience captivated by the natural sounds of the ocean, a refreshing change from many modern films that push a constant need for sound and action.
The story line isn’t overly strong but the team have done a brilliant job connecting imagery and the sounds of past and present to pull the audience along for the ride.
Drift opens in cinemas across Australia on May 2. – Kristy Coulcher
Photos from the driftthemovie website.