The new film from the great Wim Wenders (Pina) is a globe-trotting romance about a water engineer (James McAvoy) and a deep-sea researcher (Oscar winner Alicia Vikander) striving to reconnect although separated by oceans, continents, and civil war.
The cinema of Wim Wenders is driven by themes of restless travel and the search for human connection. It has led him down many different roads, where character and landscape, and the struggle between the two, have come to form the defining motif of his work. Submergence, his achingly romantic new film, follows very much in this vein.
Based on the novel by former war correspondent J.M. Ledgard, the story begins with a deliriously wild love affair between two people near the resort town of Dieppe, on France's northern coast. James (James McAvoy) is a globe-trotting water engineer, while Danielle (Alicia Vikander) is a bio-mathematician working on a deep-sea diving project. They fall rapidly and unexpectedly into each other's arms, even though their jobs are destined to separate them. Neither is fully prepared for what will happen next.
While Danny, fascinated with exploring the ocean's greatest depths, sets off on a perilous quest, James leaves for Somalia, where he is soon sucked into a geopolitical vortex that puts him in grave danger. Both characters are subject to different kinds of isolation as they pine for each other; their determination to reconnect becomes as much an existential journey as a love story.
Photographed in sparking detail by Benoît Debie (Enter the Void, Every Thing Will Be Fine), the Normandy seaside, the parched sands of Somalia, and the undersea dives provide crystalline imagery for Wenders' gorgeously realized adaptation of a harrowing tale about love colliding with uncontrollable forces.