A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Submergence is a romantic drama with messages about the state of the world. A man is taken hostage and beaten; viewers will also see guns and shooting, a grenade exploding, a rifle butt to the stomach, cuts, bruises, a black eye, and other violent images/moments. The central couple is shown kissing and in bed with their clothes off, but nothing sensitive is seen. A woman is also shown in revealing underwear. Language includes a few uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and other words. There's some social drinking, as well as brief smoking. Despite the star power of James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander and direction by veteran Wim Wenders, it's pretty dull.
What's the story?
In SUBMERGENCE, two people meet at a Normandy luxury beach hotel. James (James McAvoy) is an MI6 agent who's posing as a water engineer, and Danielle (Alicia Vikander) is a bio-mathematician who intends to save the world with secrets she hopes to find at the lowest depths of the ocean. James is about to secretly infiltrate a terrorist cell while claiming to help build cleaner wells, and Danielle is preparing to board a small submarine for an extended dive. But before they embark upon their duties, they fall in love. Then James is captured, held prisoner, and tortured, while Danielle -- who knows nothing about him being a secret agent -- pines for him and wonders why she can't reach him. At a crucial moment, the power in the sub goes out, and James simultaneously uses a final trick he's had up his sleeve. Will the couple reconnect?
Is it any good?
Veteran director Wim Wenders is comfortable with taking risks and has never been pigeonholed, but his movies have rarely been as static or flat-out boring as this depressing, message-heavy romance. Submergence is certainly lovely to look at, especially with stars like Vikander and McAvoy, and it has a swirling, sweeping music score to help. But, perhaps due to its heavy water-themed dialogue and imagery, it never sparks to life; it's all wet. The characters are idealists, but they never connect on an emotional level. Worse, Danielle allows her pining to overshadow her work; she becomes defined by a male character.
Wenders tells the couple's story slightly out of chronological order, heavy with flashbacks, and the three sections don't work well together. The romance scenes at the beach hotel are talky and slow. Danielle's scenes preparing for her dive and fretting over James are one-note; the actual dive is shockingly brief and anti-climactic. And James' scenes are meant to play like a spy thriller, but they actually lack any thrills. The ending is vague in a bad way. Coming from the filmmaker behind such vivid movies as Paris, Texas; Wings of Desire; and Buena Vista Social Club, Submergence is a surprising dud.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Submergence's violence. How did it affect you? What do you think the movie hopes to accomplish by showing this kind of terrorist-related violence? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How does the movie depict sex? How do the male and female characters relate to one another? How are they defined by each other?
What does the movie have to say about terrorism? Do you agree?
Is Danielle a role model? Why or why not?
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