Ladies, if your fella isn’t returning your calls, maybe he’s a secret agent on a tippy-top secret mission for queen and country. Fellas, if your girl isn’t liking your posts, maybe she has zero bars because she’s doing science stuff on the ocean floor.
I went into Submergence fully aware of the generally negative reviews, but I’m willing to watch anything by Wim Wenders, who directed at least two of my most beloved movies: Wings of Desire and Until the End of the World.
I suppose I can see how many (most?) people would find Submergence frustrating, but to me it is intriguing update to one of Wenders’ longest-running themes: falling in love, despite — or perhaps accelerated by — looming death. In Wings of Desire, an immortal being contemplates earthly concerns like suicide and the legacy of Nazi Germany, and chooses mortal love. The characters in The End of Violence and Until the End of the World live under different kinds of technological swords of Damocles: drones in the former, and nuclear disaster in the latter. After all, it’s right there in the titles.
In Submergence, two beautiful people (Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy) meet cute and fall in love, but each is haunted by their own particular view of immanent environmental apocalypse: hers primarily scientific and his political. Lest the Anthropocene Extinction and potable water crisis be insufficient cause for existential anxiety, there is also an eerily prescient prediction of a virus not unlike COVID-19. Submergence was released in 2017.
She is more optimistic than he about mitigating the disasters sure to come in the near future. Given how his mission goes drastically awry, with him a powerless prisoner while she remains actively in control, perhaps she is right.
The one key Wenders ingredient that is lacking in Submergence is his usual A+ primo taste in music. So many of his past movies have utterly superb soundtracks, particularly the sublime Until the End of the World, the cd of which was effectively one of the best mixtapes of the 1990s, and famously outsold the movie. But the score for Submergence is disappointingly generic and overbearing, and the only needledrops are the classical music that Danielle blasts through her bluetooth speaker.