Film Review: Submergence

A Glasgow Film Festival review

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Adapted from the novel by JM Ledgard, Submergence focuses on two people brought together by a chance encounter. James (James McAvoy) is a Scottish spy about to embark on a dangerous mission in Somalia. Danny (Alicia Vikander) is a professor and a bio-mathematician about to head to the bottom of the ocean as part of her breakthrough discovery in search of new lifeforms. During Christmas they find each other at a hotel in France, both taking a chance to relax before embarking on their high-risk missions. There’s an instant attraction (though we the viewers never actually understand where it came from) and, in the space of a few days, they fall in love, eager to see more of each other once they return. However, when James is kidnapped by jihadists, Danny is left waiting for a text message that might never come, unaware of his predicament as she prepares for her deep dive.

Throughout most of the movie we catch glimpses of Danny (Alicia Vikander) being ghosted by text, crying, unable to understand how the love of her life failed her (all accompanied by the film’s violin and piano soundtrack, of course), while she attempts to keep herself together for the sake of her mission. On the other hand, we see a beaten up James (James McAvoy) kidnapped and held in awful conditions, fighting for his life while telepathically trying to reach Danny to express his love.

What is a real shame is that we are talking about two extremely talented actors, who both the film script and directing has to a great extent failed. It is true, the performances seemed more wooden than Pinocchio, but the lack of any meaningful dialogue and the very cliché portrait shots let an opportunity of an actually compelling love story between the two skilled performers go to waste. With that said, the scenery was beautiful and the soundtrack, if it hadn’t be so repetitious, might have elevated the movie somewhat. As a film, Submergence unfortunately seemed more like a 21st-Century Atonement parody, and one which definitely did not deliver its message.

More information on the Glasgow Film Festival is available here.

[Alkmini Nikopoulou]

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