A DERIVA (ADRIFT; 2009) is a powerful, perceptive, and sensual Brazilian feature about a crumbling marriage seen through the eyes of a fourteen year old girl. Starring the always compelling Vincent Cassell as the father and Laura Neiva as the girl, the film depicts how the ups and steep downs of a marriage shape the already tentative world view of a younger person.
Set on the craggy shores of an island-like holiday haven, director Heitor Dhalia uses surreal water imagery to convey the mental state of his heroine, and takes a refreshingly mature, non-hysterical approach to the ever-present subject of sex pertaining to both younger and older cast members.
A DERIVA, for me, explored some of the territory French director Catherine Breillet has been mining since her brilliant debut A VERY YOUNG GIRL; she followed those with 36 FILLETTE, then FAT GIRL. All three focused on a younger person's perceptions of adulthood, and how signals can be so easily misinterpreted.
In Dhalia's film, which is based on a novel, a great deal of attention is also paid to the marriage itself, and Cassell is met with equal force by Debora Bloch, the actress playing his transitioning wife. Camilla Belle is also electric in a role pivotal to Neiva's awakening.
The use of The Ronette's BE MY BABY, at crucial junctions in the film, is inspired.