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Submergence - Film Review

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by Kiesten McCauley (subscribe)
My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
Published August 14th 2018
A deeply moving movie
Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
Submergence is in cinemas now


If you're tired of spy movies that are all shaky cam', fast edit, explosion-fests Submergence is for you. If you've had it with romances where the protagonists have no discernable chemistry or reason to be together, this is also a film for you. That's not to mention actual sex scenes – remember sex scenes? They were a thing before Hollywood got all coy and puritanical and dumped sex for violence, violence and more violence. Director Wim Wenders (The Salt of the Earth, Wings of Desire) lacks the puritanical touch with the direction of this sexy, romantic thriller based on the novel Submergence by J.M. Ledgard with screenplay by Erin Dignam (The Last Face).

Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
Our lovers make a powerful connection


There's a desire and longing permeating Submergence. It stars James McAvoy (X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Split, X-Men: Apocalypse, Atonement, The Last King of Scotland) and Academy Award®-winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina) as the lovers whose careers drive them apart. This multi-layered story is political, personal and profound. It evokes thoughts of entanglement theory (spooky action at a distance) and how it may apply to people with whom we strongly connect.

Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
Truly beautiful romance


The film is based on a novel by J.M. Ledgard; a journalist who covered society and politics across Africa for The Economist magazine. He was inspired by his experiences living and working in Somalia.

"I was very interested in our lack of perspective of the planet we live on," he says, "It is much bigger than we think it is, much more complicated than we think it is. At the same time, it is much harder and tougher as well."

Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
Dani is driven by her career


Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
James is equally driven by his career


The narrative follows Danielle Flinders (Alicia Vikander) and James More (James McAvoy). After a chance meeting in Normandy, they fall swiftly and deeply in love. It's not great timing for either of them, as both are preparing for dangerous missions that will take them worlds apart from one another. James must go to Somalia to track down a source for suicide bombers infiltrating Europe for the British Secret Service. Danielle must travel to the bottom of the ocean for a deep sea diving project. As a bio-mathematician, she's eager to discover the origin of life on our planet.

When the characters are separated, we see snippets of their love story, while each of them achingly reminisces about their time together. It's most heartbreaking in the case of James, who's been kidnapped by a Jihadist group.

"The novel has three strands," the author says. "One strand is set in Africa and about a British spy who is kidnapped by a Jihadist group. The second follows a professor at Imperial College, London who is a bio mathematician, which means she studies the volume of microbial life in the oceans. The third sees these two characters meeting in a hotel in France and forms the central part of the story. They have a passionate love affair. So really, it is about science, belief and love."

Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
Director Wim Wenders in the background, guiding James McAvoy


Director Wim Wenders was drawn to the book for two reasons, he says. "The material is authentic as it's by a writer who had experience of what he was writing about when he was reporting on East Africa, Somalia and Al-Shabaab. And it also drew on the extensive knowledge he learned about the deep-sea world about why it is so important for us to research what is happening at the bottom of the sea and how the bottom of the sea might be a solution for the future of our planet."

Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
Gorgeous lighting and lovely framing


Star James McAvoy was thrilled to be cast in the film. "All the major players in the story - Danny, my character, the Jihadists - are all so strongly connected to our beliefs that we are prepared to die for them. And our characters have all confronted that possibility that our job or the thing that we believe in might result in that. So it was really important that my character believed in his God, that he believed in his country, that he believed in his mission, his purpose. And then love comes along and makes it harder to be that selfless guy prepared to die."

Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
James is willing to die for his job


Submergence isn't just food for thought, it's also visually stunning too. The settings are beautifully lit and cinematography is artistically framed. Shots are languid and steady so you can really take in the colours and nuances in each setting. The acting is first rate and will move you. So if you like films with more depth than the average blockbuster, don't miss Submergence.

Submergence, wim, wenders, movie, film, cinema, Alicia, Vikander, James, McAvoy
Dani may have to die for her job too


Seeing Submergence in Australia

In Cinemas: 16 August
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Rating: M

Screening Locations

Victoria


Carlton Nova
Elsternwick Classic
Hawthorn Lido
Yarraville Sun
Palace Como
Palace Balwyn
Palace Dendy Brighton
Ballarat
Sorrento Atheneum

New South Wales

Palace Chauvel
Tamworth
Orange
Wagga Plaza
Majestic Port Macquarie
Majestic Singleton
Ettalong
Nowra

Queensland

New Farm
Elizabeth
Palace Centro
Townsville Warrina
Goondiwindi
Majestic Nambour (Commences 23rd Aug)

South Australia

Toorak Gardens
Wallis Mitcham
Wallis Mt Barker
Wallis Noarlunga
Palace / Nova Adelaide

Western Australia

Luna Leederville Canberra
Palace Electric

Tasmania

Hobart State
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Why? Submerge yourself in a deep film
When: From 16th August in Australia
Where: Showing all around Australia in selected cinemas
Cost: Check your local cinemas for prices
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