“Submergence”: Dear Wim Wenders, What Happened?


Of course, you might want to see the disappointing romantic drama Submergence. It’s directed by Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, Until the End of the World) and stars Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider, Ex Machina) and James McAvoy (Split, some X-Men movies).

You may even find yourself drawn in by the first half of Wenders and screenwriter Erin Dignam’s sensuous adaptation of J.M. Ledgard’s sprawling novel. The story follows idealistic Scottish spy James (McAvoy) as he, now kidnapped by Somalian Jihadi fighters, recalls his whirlwind romance with shy biomathematician Danielle (Vikander). Initially, Wenders finds in Dignam and Ledgard’s flashback-intensive scenario many opportunities to accent the enchanting sounds and textures of James and Danielle’s honeymoon-period romance, like the muffled clinking of their wine glasses or the soft creaking of their hotel’s hardwood floors.

But you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself — or the filmmakers — if you keep watching after the sixty-minute mark. At that point, McAvoy vaguely — but angrily! — lectures everybody, including Danielle during mid-fling flashbacks, about the “educational” imperative underlying their respective professions. We can only guess what — or who — James is referring to when he instructs Danielle that “their world’s only about power. It’s only secondly about education.”

And you may just want to claw your eyes out whenever Danielle, during post-flashback scenes set at the same time as James’s present-day Somalian misadventures, validates his condescending attitude by pining for him, especially when she half cries/half yells before launching herself at a gymnasium punching bag. Like Vikander, you deserve better than Submergence.

Directed by Wim Wenders
Samuel Goldwyn
Opens April 13, Cinema Village


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