Review: Submergence

4 10

PLOT: A chance encounter between a British spy (James McAvoy) and scientist (Alicia Vikander) soon develops into a star-crossed love affair, but soon the lovers are torn apart by circumstances beyond their control.

REVIEW: It’s been awhile since Wim Wenders has made a truly exceptional fiction film (although his documentaries are as good as ever), but even if recent entries into his filmography are lacking, I’ll always give the director of THE AMERICAN FRIEND, PARIS, TEXAS and WINGS OF DESIRE a shot. SUBMERGENCE seemed like a good bet, with Wenders ditching the oddball obsession with 3D to make a love story tinged with international intrigue, but the result is a turgid melodrama that will test the patience of even his most devoted fans.

Despite the marquee box office names, SUBMERGENCE seems doomed to be a mere footnote in his storied career, but maybe that’s for the best. Certainly, non-devotees of his work will be left scratching their heads, wondering what could have drawn James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander to such an unremarkable project. There’s nothing much going on here, with Wenders struggling to build a compelling narrative, which centers on the fact that the two movie star lovers are separated. He’s been taken prisoner by jihadists, while she’s sure he’s forgotten her, and is getting ready to take a perilous assignment in a tiny submersible, the odds of her coming back from which aren’t all that great. Cue lots of poetic, ponderous dialogue drowning in pretentiousness. At least it looks nice though.

The biggest problem is you’re simply never invested in the relationship. The chemistry between McAvoy and Vikander lacks heat. Both are too cold. You never really believe this is more than a fling for either. Ditto Vikander’s scientific work, which should have at least provided for some amazing visuals as she’s in the tiny sub, but there’s nothing all that memorable about this section of the film. McAvoy’s plight is marginally more compelling, thanks mostly to Alexander Siddig’s performance as a semi-sympathetic physician who befriends McAvoy, while simultaneously making it clear he’s a committed jihadist. The ambiguity is interesting, and their bits together could have made for an interesting film, but Wenders favors the romance.

It really has to be said that SUBMERGENCE is strictly for art-house audiences, specifically fans of Wenders, but even they’ll likely be bored by what’s easily a lesser-effort. Those reading this that might be drawn in by the stars likely won’t make it too long into the movie before giving up. Watching it, I couldn’t help but think about what Mel Gibson said after viewing the finished version of his own Wim Wenders’ film, MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL – “I thought it was as boring as a dog's ass.” It wasn’t – but this one kind of is. Even still, Wenders’s place in film history is assured, and long after movies like this one are forgotten something like PARIS, TEXAS will endure.

Source: JoBlo.com



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