The Australian surf drama “Drift” from directors Morgan O’Neill and Ben Nott is after a specific storytelling wave: capturing an early ‘70s era when zen-like passion for the sport often butted heads with the desire in some to make an honest living from it. Brothers Andy (Myles Pollard) and Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) personify that split in that older, responsible Andy wants to turn their love of surfing and board acumen into a gear business, while scruffy, pleasure-seeking Jimmy — talented enough to go pro — falls under the mystic-spouting, drug-fueled lifestyle of roaming hippie JB (a bearded, flinty-eyed Sam Worthington).
When “Drift” sticks to the likable, gently humorous contours of occasionally fractious brotherly love, broken up by thrillingly shot surfing footage, it has plenty of charm, period flavor and breezy visual breadth. The leads are engaging, and Pollard in particular projects an easygoing, friendly machismo. Where the movie routinely disappoints, though, is in pursuit of a perfect storm of conflict story lines: the love triangle (with Lesley-Ann Brandt as a Hawaiian transplant), the threatening drug gang, the mean banker and even the winner-take-all sports competition. For a movie as modestly entertaining as “Drift” can be, that’s a recipe for wipe out.
MPAA rating: Rated R for language and drug content
Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Playing at: Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica