Starring Alicia Vikander, James McAvoy
A very handsome production traversing many continents directed by Australia’s finest filmmaker, and a charismatic lead pair, can’t prevent this purported love epic from sliding into a crashing bore.
Submergence is one of those well-aimed misfires that Hollywood serves up once in abluemoon. In the narrative of catastrophic epics it ranks right up there with Richard Attenbrough’s A Bridge Too Far, Michael Cimono’s Heaven’s Gate and Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur Legend Of The Sword.
Catastrophe strikes the film’s charming couple long before the man is kidnapped by Islamic Fundamentalists in rural Africa and locked into what looks like a fairly habitable room for a low-income Mumbaikar. So okay the hideout doesn’t have a window. But we’ve been in far more suffocating places than McAvoy.This film, for example.
Long before James MacAvoy, making a big and song dance of his broken body and tattered soul, is held captive , the director Wim Wender’s vision is imprisoned by the couple’s inability to generate mutual passion. Indeed Vikander and McAvoy look more like two people trying to be politely receptive to one another’s eccentricities than the desperate lovers that the script so desperately wants them to be , while we so desperately seek an escape from the claustrophobic conflicts of two hearts that belong not just to two separate planets but also deserve to be placed in two different films.
Perhaps the very talented lead pair found itself together in the wrong film. If David Lean were alive he may have created another Ryan’s Daughter for Vikander and McAvoy.WimWinders seems bored with the idea of letting the lovers find their mutual passion. Their love making is executed with as much passionate exuberance as molar surgery.
The camera , forever peering into cavities that generate no brio,pries into the pair’ facial profile with the reverent aloofness of a priest tiptoeing through a temple . There is just no mutual attraction between Vikander and McAvoy.Their separation moves us in no special away. By the time the question of whether they will finally be united pops it head , we are way beyond caring.
The bizarre ending suggesting a profound connection between the heroine’s oceanic explorations and the hero’s doomed destiny,only adds to the tiresome affectations of a film that forfeits real emotions for a pantomime of passion.
Not that the narrative, so in awe of its exotic locations and esoteric camera movements , ever allows us to get anywhere near the central romance. How can we care for the lovers when they don’t seem to care for one another in any real sense?
Unless you like films where the locations are used as characters to heighten the distance between the audience and the plot, Submergence is best left buried deep under the ocean where the heroine is seen to explore constantly. I hope she finds the script some day . Because Wim Wenders who once gave us a rousing interpretation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary classic The Scarlett Letter, here makes a complete hash of J M Ledgard’s novel.