“Drift,” based on the novel “A Marker to Measure Drift” by Alexander Maksik is a female-driven story that’s painfully beautiful. Director Anthony Chen accurately conveys the therapeutic aspects of friendship, kindness, and compassion, which lends a soul-cleansing quality to the film. It’s sort of like attending a therapy session while watching, especially with how quickly and easily it is to become engrossed in the story.

After fleeing war-torn Liberia, formerly wealthy Jacqueline (Cynthia Erivo) is a now young refugee who is living in a cave on a Greek island. It’s a place of paradise to the many tourists who visit, and Jacqueline solicits guests on the beach with low-priced massages in order to make money. She crosses paths with expat tour guide Callie (Alia Shawkat), an equally restless and lonely woman, and the two begin a friendship. Jacqueline is guarded and afraid, and Callie expresses a caring sensitivity in her attempts to find solidarity with her obviously distressed companion. Both aimless and hurting from the past, they find strength in each other to keep moving forward.  

Chen creates a heart-wrenching character study that’s sincere and real, and Erivo and Shawkat give strong, authentic performances. The acting is subtle and sophisticated yet powerful, especially as the characters bring long-buried memories to the surface. The horrifically traumatic story that haunts Jacqueline’s past is told in compelling, well-placed flashbacks that eventually lead to a devastating revelation of unimaginable violence.

It’s a tough one to watch, but “Drift” is a powerful film with a potent message about female companionship and the need for human connection.

By: Louisa Moore

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