Drifting away at 30,000 feet
No matter how you slice it, a 15-hour flight is a long haul. But as I nestled into my window seat and flipped through the in-flight entertainment, I found "Drift" in the catalog. Coming off of a great trip to the Maldives, I skipped over it. I didn't want to taint my recent travels with yet another corny attempt by a mainstream movie house to "get surfing." But like I said, a 15-hour flight's a long haul.
After dinner and a nap I cued up "Drift" and settled in. Loosely based around the emergence of the surf industry in Australia, the film depicts the trials and tribulations of two brothers who open a fledgling surf shop, selling innovative new shortboards and custom wetsuits. As their business begins to take flight the Kelly brothers find themselves up against a criminal fringe that surrounded the sport at the time. They have to reckon with drug deals gone bad and the stereotypes such activities provoke in small towns. Filmed around Margaret River, the setting is rugged and real, just like the surfing. By the time the credits rolled I was won over.
"Drift" won't win an Oscar this year, but it does rank among the better productions in the surf cinema genre. It could easily be considered Australia's version of "Big Wednesday," which wasn't a smash hit when it was released in '78 but grew to become a cult classic. All told, the production does a good job of capturing what was happening in Australia at the time with reasonable accuracy and authenticity. The same can't be said for every major production.
"Drift" is just hitting shelves and computers around the world now. Lionsgate Home Entertainment is offering it up on DVD and Blue-ray, and the film is also available on demand or for download as well.
At the very least, "Drift" helped me while away a couple hours on a long flight, and for that I'll be forever grateful.
Behind the scenes of "Drift"
Filmed in remote Western Australia, "Drift" is based on actual events that surround the birth of the surf industry in the 1970s. More than most mainstream surf films, does a good job of striking the surf chord.