• Gareth Crook

Submergence (2017)

Wim Wenders directing a pretty decent cast, this should be good. Danielle Flinders (Alicia Vikander) is deep water bio mathematician (nope me neither), working on theories about the origins of life. She’s on a boat heading out to somewhere near Norway. James More (James McAvoy), her boyfriend of sorts hasn’t called in a while. Thats because he’s being held captive in Somalia. Having been captured by terrorists suspecting he’s a British spy, which he is. McAvoy is watchable as always, he really throws himself into these serious dramatic roles doesn’t he and make no mistake this is dramatic and serious. The music tells us with its low menacing strings, that pulverise the ears almost all the way through. Vikander can be a bit more hit and miss and this is a miss. Not entirely her fault. The whole thing feels far fetched, yet predictable and a bit dull. Despite their exciting lives, the premise here is a simple love story. Their respective situations now allowing them to reminisce of their meeting a mere month ago at some hauty idyllic French hotel, the kind of place where there are no children and people sit around fireplaces drinking scotch. It’s all oddly polished. Devoid of any true feeling, people just don’t talk like this, act or interact like this. To believe there’s any presence of love here is ridiculous. An example of the old saying ‘lack of chemistry’. The scenes with them together are very awkward and instantly forgettable. James on his own in his cell is much better, there’s real punch there as he sits in the dust and squalor. These brief interludes though only highlight the mundanity of the supposed romance. It’s all over the place, throw in religious conflict, environmental issues, it all just feels bloated and disjointed. James gets a battering and tries to keep himself alive. Danielle is broken hearted as he’s obviously not answering the phone. As the film progresses, we get more of present day and less of the romance. It’s a weird choice that heralds a weird story arc. I’ve no idea if this is all intentional or if it’s just been totally screwed up in the edit, but it doesn’t work. Where James’ current situation feels like it has real heft and hits all the expected fear and panic created by a hostage situation. Danielle on her expedition, even with a little underwater drama, feels soulless and that’s a good one word summary of Submergence. Soulless. Will they reach their goals, will they find each other again? I really couldn’t care less. I thought this would be good. It’s not.


3/10



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