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TIFF Review: Wim Wenders’ Submergence

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Two lovers are separated by circumstances and the Atlantic Ocean.

 A series of flashbacks that chronicle the whirlwind romance between a water engineer and a deep-sea researcher at a seaside resort in Dieppe, France are intercut with their present-day predicaments.  The former is also a MI6 operative who gets captured by Jihadists and the latter is preparing for landmark dive which will take her to the darkest depths of marine life.  Despite all of the doubts and potentially fatal situations the love that they have for each other transcends everything in their lives.

The premise sounds and is melodramatic, especially with the passive nature of the two lead characters.  This attitude is probably more authentic but makes the role played by Alicia Vikander come across as a pining and obsessive schoolgirl rather brilliant academic on the path to greatness.  James McAvoy can be forgiven somewhat as he is placed in a rather restrictive situation with his death being just a footstep away.   There is an on-screen chemistry that permeates between Vikander and McAvoy that is endearing and thankfully humour is not amiss.

Water plays a major visual and thematic part in the story whether it be the seaside settings or the prevailing use of the colour blue in the production and costume designs.  Filmmaker Wim Wenders relies on intercutting storylines to create a sense of spiritual connection between the two lovers as they spend most of the time away from each other.   The editing technique makes sense but does not achieve the profoundness that Wenders aimed to achieve, while the climatic conclusion takes on almost Shakespearian proportions as one wonders if there will be an earthly reunion between the two lead actors.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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