DRIFT: A Review of an awesome Aussie surf film starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington

Drift is set in a remote town on Australia’s spectacular and rugged coastline in the early ‘70s, DRIFT tells the story of two brothers at the birth of the modern surf industry.

Determined to escape a life of factory work and petty crime, headstrong older brother Andy (Myles Pollard) and his wayward surf prodigy younger brother Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) form a volatile alliance. With their seamstress mother Kat (Robyn Malcolm) they fashion custom-made Drift wetsuits and new shorter surfboards out of their back yard garage.

 

Drift Movie Poster - starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington
Drift Movie Poster – starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington

 

Their fledgling business generates a powerful buzz amongst the hard-core local surfers, but the brothers’ progressive ideas are soon at odds with their conservative town and find themselves embroiled in a violent feud with a drug-dealing biker gang looking to manipulate Drift’s early success.

Enter JB, an infamous surf filmmaker (Sam Worthington) and Lani (Lesley-Ann Brandt), his gorgeous Hawaiian companion who drift into town just as the brothers’ business and troubles begin to escalate. The travellers embody the era’s anti-establishment vibe and are skeptical, but soon realize if the brothers can survive and stay true to their surfing roots, they might be part of something greater than they ever imagined.

Based on true stories from the era, Drift is the action filled story of a complex family of outsiders who struggle to escape their troubled past to forge a successful future…stumbling upon the worldwide multi-billion dollar cultural movement we know today.

 

Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington
Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington

 

It’s a little hard for me to review this film while being completely neutral – I am one of Xavier Samuel’s greatest fans and worship the ground he walks on – he is my favourite Australian actor and someone I have loved on film since he starred in a little Aussie film I reviewed years ago called September. He is a definite pretty boy, I mean come on – he is drop dead gorgeous – BUT – he can also act. He also starred in one of my all time Australian films as a gay surfer, this amazing film was called Newcastle. From there he has taken Hollywood by the fangs – see what I did there – he starred in Twilight before being eaten by a wolf. He then was in my favourite film from two years ago, Anonymous – about the rumoured life of Shakespeare. While he is not doing the Hollywood thing he brings it back home to light up our own screens and why not do it with mate and a slightly more un-blue Sam Worthington.

 

Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington
Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington

 

This film is a period film and a well captured period film from the 70s of Western Australia during the start of surf culture was we know it today – it is a maverick’s world and one I would have loved to have been a part of. It totally reminded me of growing up, I could nearly smell the burning asphalt and grass clippings mixed with Tang and the smell of the ocean. I pretty much lived this life growing up but I had a huge fear of surf but lived on the beach. I had over ten surfboards at my house that belonged to my mates and I did the photography and packed the cones 🙂 I was the skier of the group so come wintertime I came into my own. This film embodies surfing in the time, everything about it screamed the Australian 70s surf culture and small town life.

 

Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington
Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington

 

Morgan O’Neill and Ben Nott do a superb job of directing a film with these actors and big waves – you know the actors don’t surf the big waves. I always loathe those cut in scenes of the actors cut tight that you can tell do not fit in the flow of the scene – they did the same thing in Point Break – they only did it a couple of times and Xavier surfed some scenes but he wasn’t taking on those big waves, not many people would. What many people will enjoy the film for are the stunning, exciting and beautiful surfing sequences, which are filmed by Rick Rifici and Rick Jakovich: two highly experienced and talented water cinematographers. Filmed with great width, there are some hair-raising waves showcased here.

 

Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington
Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington

 

The film is complex, it has surfing, it has drugs, it has biker gangs, it has marketing and a grass roots business and it has much much more, like comedy and romance, sport and fun times. It is also a great little Aussie battler who comes from behind film, everyone is a loves this kind of film :). One thing I really enjoyed about the film that the directors did a good job on was that they managed to present us with a film that was more than one dimensional, it took us all to many different places, at times I wanted to know where the film was going, was it a surf industry maverick grass roots film (with a different type of grass) or was it a Bra Boys kind of film with brothers and surf culture clashing but then it kind of made sense, it was a look at these people’s lives, and life never really takes a specific course, it just happens and the guys show it on film. The drug scenes happen, the gang scenes happen but it is never built up to be momentous, it just is.

 

Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington
Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington

 

The acting is all great, Xavier is a perfect casting choice for the hotstuff surfer who looks a little bit stoned most of the time because the character would have been. He gives a strong, slightly relaxed performance but he could be freaking woeful and I will still say he is awesome, which he was – love you Xavier 🙂 Sam Worthington gives a great performance, he doesn’t need to worry about an accent in this one, thank god. I am still a bit unsure about him being the spiritual zen master photographer who likes his drugs and surfing but he is familiar and is the binding character that ties everyone together and keeps them on the path to success, and while everyone whines about his accent, me included, he does have a deep resonating voice that sounds good in the right place, and this is it. His van was way too clean for someone living that lifestyle. I have absolutely no idea who Myles Pollard is but he was in XMen Origins as Phelan, was also in Tucker and Dale V Evil – loved that film and was in Packed to the Rafters (a show I never watched). I enjoyed him as the older brother. One of the standouts for me was Aarin Glenane as Gus. He had to give us a lot more emotion in the film and his character was pushed to greater limits, Glenane really did it justice. Steve Bastoni was a great asshole and Lesley-Ann Brandt was great as Lani. To be honest I can’t really fault any of the acting, even the cheesy surf promoter guy was genuine for the time, god I loathed people like him when I was younger.

 

Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington
Drift Movie Starring Xavier Samuel and Sam Worthington

 

The film can occasionally be a tad cheesy and formulaic on the little guy coming back sceanrio and let down a couple of times by the script but to be honest, it is more than made up for by the surfing and acting talent and just the era of the film. I also have to mention a great transition from black and white to colour following a shitty family life beginning so reminiscent of my own childhood. The cinematography by Geoffrey Hall is a real standout – he is best known for shooting Chopper and Red Dog.

I loved the film, it is definitely one of my favourite Australian films capturing a great era of our lives – it released today and is about two hours long. I would recommend it to see a great era in Australian culture as well as for superb surfing cinematography and so you can see Xavier Samuel – but remember people – he is mine mine mine 🙂 Worth a happy 8 out of 10 packed bongs by the beach.

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