Nothing nearly remarkable enough happens in Drift to make its claim that it’s based on real-life events worth noting other than perhaps for legal reasons. The film follows two surfer brothers, Jimmy and Andy Kelly (Xavier Samuel and Myles Pollard), the former something of a local star, as they decide to open a surf shop specializing in homemade boards and wetsuits. Though set in the 1970s on the western Australian coast, given the musical signifiers and the appearance of a near-copy of the Furthur, the bus Ken Kesey used to travel around the U.S. in 1964, audiences may feel as if they’re knee-deep in a vision set during the Summer of Love. And it probably goes without saying that nothing in this hackneyed film, so reliant on stock characters and tropes, holds the same interest as Kesey and his Merry Pranksters.
The obstacles that the Kelly brothers encounter, including a loosely explained conflict with an ex-convict, frustrating dealings with a stodgy bank manager who refuses the brothers’ loan requests and demands back payments on a mortgage, and of course drama with a woman, Lani (Lesley Ann-Brandt), who gets between the two brothers, are as uninspired as the film’s treacly lessons about brotherhood and staying true to one’s principles. More compelling are the surfing scenes, which directors Ben Nott and Morgan O’Neill infuse with nice enough flair by placing their cameras on actual surfboards, and there’s some fun in discovering that it’s Sam Worthington behind the long hair and beard of the bus-owning J.B. Otherwise, the film sets its sights on being both a rousing sports drama and piece of cultural history, then offers nothing that the Kellys can’t surf their way out of, and as such fails to grip the imagination.