Considering the subject matter — an intense relationship between a bio-mathematician on a groundbreaking deep-sea diving expedition and an enigmatic water system engineer — Wim Wenders' "Submergence" should have been more immersive.
Instead, the French-German-Spanish co-production resembles the filmmaker's more recent impeccably crafted but ponderously meandering output.
Unfolding in non-chronological order, Erin Dignam's script (adapted from J.M. Ledgard's novel) centers around Alicia Vikander's Danielle "Danny" Flinders and James McAvoy's James More, who meet and engage in a brief but urgent affair while vacationing in Normandy.
Their work leads each to different ends of the world, with Danny preparing to board a submersible that will take her depths of the Greenland Sea's abyss where she hopes to prove her theories on the origin of life.
Unbeknownst to Danny, James is actually in the employment of the British Secret Service, and the reason for his lack of communication pertains to his capture and torture by Somalian jihadists.
Despite the potent raw material at his disposal, Wenders listlessly flips back and forth between the two backdrops, allowing any remaining element of dramatic tension to slowly seep out along the way.
While Vikander and McAvoy are two undeniably photogenic actors who also radiate considerable intelligence, their best efforts are lost in the claustrophobic environment. Also lost in the telling is an affecting portrait of two fiercely independent individuals who discover that delicate boundary between solitude and loneliness.
Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills