[Spoilers ahead for Adrift, which you can also read about here, and for last year’s Their Finest
I thought one thing while watching Adrift, which Kristy called in her review one of the movies not to overlook this summer: “Why does Sam Claflin keep dying so that women can learn about themselves from his death?!”
Yes, that is a very specific complaint about a British actor who played one of the most fan-favorite characters in The Hunger Games quite well, has worked steadily since then, and can almost just nearly pull off a neckbeard. Claflin isn’t an A-list star in the U.S., but he’s certainly been in some buzzy stuff (like the underseen My Cousin Rachel, with the always-wonderful Rachel Weisz), and I generally like him whenever he’s around, and for real though, why does he keep dying in stuff? WHY CAN’T WE LET SAM CLAFLIN LIVE?
Here are my gripes. Indulge me.
Claflin plays missionary Philip Swift, who falls in love with a mermaid, Syrena (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, from I Origins! Am I the only person in the world who liked that pretentious AF movie?) He’s near death after a fight with the Spanish Army at the Fountain of Youth, and I think he actually does die, but is saved by the mermaid who loves him. They swim off together to, hopefully, go do sexy stuff. But like, HE STILL DIED.
OK, no, Claflin doesn’t die in these movies, and in fact saves Kristen Stewart’s Snow White from dying by giving her the first magical kiss needed to wake her up in Snow White and the Huntsman, and then marrying her in Winter’s War. Fine, these roles don’t fit into my theory. But remember how good that movie’s evil-centric production design was? I had kind of forgotten!
Claflin plays Brian McNeil, a university student who develops powers after falling in love with a young woman who might have been possessed by a Sumerian demon. Not dead, but locked up for the rest of his life, so this kind of fits. (Aside: The Sumerians, a Mesopotamian civilization, were pretty fascinating and had lingering effects on Middle Eastern cultures that developed afterward. Why they were randomly picked to have produced a demonic entity in a B-level horror movie is beyond me, aside from, you know, the consistency of brown people othering.)
Ah yes, the final, fourth Hunger Games movie. If you read the books by Suzanne Collins, you knew what was coming: that sexy as hell Finnick Odair, with his swimmer’s body, fondness for sugar cubes, and tragic backstory of being prostituted by the Capitol after his Hunger Games win, was going to be killed by gigantic lizard mutts in order to save Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss. The books are brutal, with Finnick being torn apart and decapitated by the mutts, but the movie scene is pretty rough, too. The only reason he dies is so Katniss and the revolution can live on, and he leaves behind his wife Annie (Stef Dawson) and their unborn son. Finnick’s death hurt because Claflin brought such verve and charisma to the role, and did I mention how pretty he was? Like, really, really pretty. (My personal favorite things about Finnick: His friendship with Jena Malone’s Johanna Mason, his shock when he learns that Katniss actually loves Josh Hutcheron’s Peeta, and his reunion with Annie once they rescue her from the Capitol.)
Oooh yeah, this is the good shit. I mean, not in terms of quality — Me Before You was an infuriating movie that made me despise everyone involved for a little while — but in terms of the thesis of this piece. Everything about this movie is exhausting, from the overly cutesy quirky personality (and expressive eyebrows!) of Emilia Clarke’s Louisa to the profound self-hatred of the wealthy Will, who is paralyzed after a motorcycle accident. Of course they fall in love, of course Will has previously attempted to take his own life, and of course he eventually does because to continue to live as a disabled person would be “half a life.” But wait — he also transfers a huge amount of money to Louisa so she can follow her dreams, because that is some real paternalistic shit there and that is the kind of movie this is! Ugh, this crap. I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. But let’s look at some gifs. Who knew Claflin had such nice teeth?
Last year was awash in World War II movies: Christopher Nolan’s technically marvelous Dunkirk, the undeserving-of-an-Oscar Darkest Hour (STOP THANKING WINSTON CHURCHILL, GARY OLDMAN, HE DID A LOT OF SHITTY THINGS YOU SEEM TO NOT CARE ABOUT), and the underseen-but-charming Their Finest. Starring Claflin and the charming Gemma Arterton, the film followed a pair of screenwriters as they worked on documentary films during WWII and, of course, fell in love. You can guess, since the movie is on this list, that tragedy strikes, but Claflin and Atterton are lovely together and the movie is absolutely worth watching, possibly for Claflin’s mustache alone.
Finally, we arrive at Adrift. I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as Kristy did — the twist actually infuriated me — but Claflin is again great, offering up solid chemistry with Shailene Woodley and infusing his character, Richard Sharp, with a sort of wistful wanderlust that made him empathetic and relatable. But, once more, we see Claflin’s character die in order to teach his female companion a lesson about life, resourcefulness, and survival.
Claflin is never bad in these roles, but why can’t we just let him live? Maybe in a movie about him running a puppy shelter?
Or … running a shaving … company?
Or … designing teddy bears?
Or … starring in some kind of thriller with Jena Malone, maybe where they play international jewel thieves? Look at the affection on display here!
I’m honestly down for whatever. JUST STOP DYING.
[Header photo courtesy of Getty Images]