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Alicia Vikander (#110 of 2)

Toronto Film Review Wim Wenders’s Submergence

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Toronto Film Review: Wim Wenders’s Submergence

TIFF

Toronto Film Review: Wim Wenders’s Submergence

Wim Wenders does not return to his former greatness with his latest, Submergence, a hollow romance that dares the audience to question just how much a meet-cute can change two people. The filmmaker’s cinema of displacement reaches new extremes of literalism in the relationship between water engineer James (James McAvoy) and biomathematician Danielle (Alicia Vikander), whose brief encounter reverberates throughout their lives.

James and Danielle make each other’s acquaintance at a hotel in France’s northern coast where each is resting before major work trips. They strike up a rapport through interminably detailed descriptions of their jobs; indeed, Danielle spends their first date listing the layers beneath the ocean surface with a curiously seductive air, using phrases like “mesopelagic zone” as if they might cause arousal. Wenders shoots James and Danielle’s cavorting along the coastline—an extended montage of laughing and twirling around on cliffs and beaches that Terrence Malick would probably find too chaste—as if marking time. Their conversations, at once circuitously poetic and tediously scientific, lack any spark, and neither of the characters displays any sense of deeper connection to one another beyond mild attraction.

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

Focus Features

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

True story: When I saw Titanic on opening night in New York City, Sam Waterston was sitting behind me and, within seconds of the credits rolling, was calling bullshit on the film. Almost 20 years later, his daughter, Katherine Waterston, gave two of the best performances of her young career in Queen of Earth and Steve Jobs, and given the response from critics and awards groups, it’s almost as if she never gave them. That Kate Winslet, a great actress who so artfully disappears into her role of Joanna Hoffman in the latter film that you barely notice her spotty accent work, has arguably robbed Waterston of her time in the sun probably has everything to do with name recognition alone. Or, and maybe Sam will agree with me here, the Golden Globe and BAFTA trophies that Winslet has collected for her turn may be explained by some weird reflex by which Titanic enthusiasts see a win for Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as a two-for-one special.