AT THE CINEMA: This week’s new films

Shaleine Woodley and Sam Claflin in Adrift.
Shaleine Woodley and Sam Claflin in Adrift.

Stars for Mayflower Theatre’s Christmas panto 2018 announced

Four movies you might fancy this weekend.

ADRIFT (12A)

Californian actress Shailene Woodley buoyed the Divergent saga and conjured a tsunami of tears with her emotionally raw performance in The Fault In Our Stars.

In the waterlogged thriller Adrift, she anchors an extraordinary true story of survival against the odds in the aftermath of a category four storm, which tore across the Pacific in the autumn of 1983.

We are left in no doubt about the devastation wrought by Mother Nature on a couple, who never thought they would be stranded for 41 days 1,500 miles from salvation.

Wandering spirit Tami Oldham (Woodley) finds her way from San Diego to the sun-kissed shores of Tahiti.

Soon after, handsome British adventurer Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) arrives on his sailboat, Mayaluga, and catches Tami's eye.

"Will you sail around the world with me?" he coos, persuading Tami to accompany him towards the infinite horizon.

Instead, good friends Peter (Jeffrey Thomas) and Christine (Elizabeth Hawthorne) offer Richard 10,000 US dollars to captain their yacht Hazana to San Diego.

It's a 4,000-mile trek to the place that Tami thought she had left behind but she agrees to accompany her beau.

A few days into the expedition, the couple sails into the eye of Hurricane Raymond, which is powered by 140mph winds.

Richard is thrown overboard, Tami is knocked unconscious, Hazana's masts are snapped like twigs and the hull is breached.

Miraculously, Tami fashions a makeshift sail, pumps out water and drags Richard's injured body from the waves.

Their plight seems hopeless and Richard drolly likens the incapacitated vessel to "a needle in a blue haystack".

The couple's sole chance at rescue relies on navigating a painfully slow course towards Hawaii using a sextant and watch.

Adrift rests largely on Woodley and she keeps the picture afloat with a typically engaging, heartfelt performance.

Tami's back story is undernourished - we're never told explicitly why she is determined to fly the family nest - but the central romance simmers nicely thanks to on-screen heat generated by Claflin's dashing paramour.

The script employs a fractured chronology to conceal the sole narrative twist.

TAG (15)

The Bible suggests that when we cross the threshold to adulthood, we should put away childish things.

The quintet of 40-something men, who reunite every year in Jeff Tomsic's potty-mouthed buddy comedy, blow a raspberry at the idea of responsible behaviour now they have grown up. This merry band of suited professionals, wastrels and dreamers stave off the spectre of middle-age by devoting one month every year - May - to the playground game of tag, travelling between states and donning disguises if necessary to touch an unsuspecting victim. The last person to be tagged as the bell tolls midnight on May 31 is deemed the loser until the following year when the high jinks begin again.

THE BOOKSHOP (PG)

The big screen version of The Bookshop also inspires an unshakeable weariness despite committed performances from Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy as the only residents of the close-knit community, willing to surrender themselves to the intoxicating power of the written word. Shot on location in Northern Ireland and Spain, Coixet's well-crafted portrait of narrow-mindedness and petty rivalry is crammed with a bewildering array of accents far from the maddening, parochial crowd that emerges vividly on the page. Lethargic direction and writing permeate the performances, begging us to question why anyone of sound mind would choose to move to a town that stands still.

IN THE FADE (18)

A mother's courage is warped by grief and righteous indignation in writer-director Fatih Akin's award-winning drama, which marries on-screen inner turmoil with a powerful score composed by Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme.

 Bookmarked into three emotionally wrought chapters entitled Family, Justice and The Sea, In The Fade is a slow-burning German-language thriller of shifting moral certainties, which is distinguished by a tour-de-force central performance from Diane Kruger.

Her fearless portrayal of an avenging angel, who vows to dole out the justice denied to her loved ones by the courts, scorches every frame of Akin's picture as she careens at high speed towards a precipice of self-destruction.

Kruger rips out her anguished mother's heart as she ricochets between guilt, rage and incomprehension, numbing the pain with drugs scored from her lawyer before she emerges from a suicidal fug to pursue her violent vendetta.

Courtroom scenes shimmer with suspense but once the verdict is delivered, tension dissipates and Akin relies increasingly on his luminous leading lady to energise a pedestrian final act.