TIFF 2017 Review: “Submergence” Sinks Itself Banking on an Unbelievable Relationship


TIFF 2017 Review: “Submergence” Sinks Itself Banking on an Unbelievable Relationship

Submergence is a film with incredible visuals that gives us a glimpse at places we’ve never seen, but that can’t make up for the dull and uninteresting storyline. The problem beings with the relationship between our two leads, James (James McAvoy) and Danielle (Alicia Vikander). Their relationship starts just weeks before the events that have separated them. Despite spending some time seeing the couple together, the lack of chemistry leaves much more to be desired. Once they leave and go their separate ways, we are expected to feel emotion for their love that isn’t established firmly enough to elicit the emotional response the filmmaker was hoping the audience would have.

The timelines bouncing back and forth is more problematic and adds to the distance between the audience and these characters. The pacing of the film is painful. At under two hours, the film feels like it’s three hours long due to the meandering timelines and droning on and on of James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander. The scenes where James is talking to nothing play more like a lullaby than a confession of love. One scene with Vikander and McAvoy, in particular, played extremely disingenuine to me. Vikander starts to explain to McAvoy about the different layers of the ocean and has him close his eyes. It was meant to demonstrate the darkness of the deepest parts of the ocean, but Vikander’s delivery was off and played more sexual than passionate.

Parts of the film are also unnecessarily violent and do not match the tone of the rest of the film. They are jarring and feel completely misplaced. The deeper meaning of the film of the two being connected by water is not very clearly illustrated until the end of the film and even then, doesn’t play that way. The entire film, despite a tense timeline with James, feels like there is no climax. It seems one note and doesn’t take the audience anywhere emotionally.

Wim Wenders has a great eye for visuals. The film is without a doubt stunningly shot, but the story leaves the audience uninspired and bored. The story is predictable and feels never-ending in some parts. Relying heavily on a relationship that didn’t connect with the audience. With that being said, Submergence sunk to the bottom of my list of films for the year.

Written by
Ashley Menzel is an avid film lover and lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves foreign films and dramas and reading books that have film adaptations. Her favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She loves Doctor Who, Supernatural, iZombie, and Grimm.

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