It seems natural for Australians to make sport films, but the results are usually disappointing: probably we get too much of the real thing on TV. Latest to give the genre a go are Morgan O’Neill and Ben Nott, co-directors of this loosely fact-based surfing drama set on the Western Australian coast in the early 1970s.
Myles Pollard from McLeod’s Daughters stars as Andy Kelly, a good-natured young dude who drops out of the rat race to start a surfwear company with his brother Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) and a couple of mates, taking plenty of time off to ride the waves. Though the non-committal title might lead you to fear the worst, Drift is by no means as incompetent as Blinder or as irritating as Save Your Legs!
The period is captured with affection, there’s a well-curated pop soundtrack, the surfing sequences have their impressive moments, and the scene where Andy refuses to sell out to big business evokes a pang of nostalgia. But there’s just not enough substance here for a feature film: the various subplots – a falling-out between the brothers, a tangle with local gangsters – are awkwardly contrived and all too easily resolved. Rather surprisingly, the standout actor is home-town hero Sam Worthington, cast against type as a hippie photographer who drives a psychedelic bus and mostly observes the goings-on from a friendly distance. For once, Worthington seems to be having fun – perhaps because he senses, rightly, that very little is at stake.