Why no-frills, low-thrills affair pays off


Director: Maximilian Erlenwein (Gravity)

Starring: Sophie Lowe, Louisa Krause.


Holding hope while holding breath

While the stakes are undoubtedly high in The Dive, the intensity levels delivered by this underwater thriller are lower than many will expect.

As it turns out, the decision to calmly and methodically go about its business is the best choice The Dive could have made.

If the two characters in this movie do anything else but calmly and methodically think their way through the situation facing them, both of them will die.

From the outset, The Dive keeps all backstory info to a minimum. We meet two holidaying sisters, Drew (Sophie Lowe) and May (Louisa Krause), as they arrive at a remote coastal destination for a long-planned diving expedition.

May is clearly the more experienced diver of the pair. She has brought all the best gear, and has the navigational and timekeeping instincts required to canvas plenty of caves and reefs before air supplies are spent.

Drew might be younger and greener than May, but she is more expressive and aggressive than her older sister when pushed. These qualities could prove useful, sooner rather than later here.

In fact, it is only minutes into their plunge that calamity strikes. A powerful landslide launches a barrage of boulders into the bay which May and Drew have just started exploring.

One large rock collects May from above, and immediately pushes her into a darkened recess, pinning her to the ocean floor for good measure.

It takes some time for Drew to locate May amid the murk stirred up down below. And time is already running out. According to May’s best calculations, she has just 20 minutes of air left in her tanks.

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To at least buy May some thinking time, Drew needs to return to the surface (a round trip of 10 minutes), sprint back to their car to retrieve more air tanks (there goes six or seven minutes) and then relocate her sibling for a reload of precious oxygen.

Oh, and just to speed up a desperate race against the clock, Drew notices a boat approaching the shoreline, just as she is about to descend back to where May is trapped.

Should she squander valuable seconds waving them over? Would they even be able to help in any way? Should she wait for them to understand the gravity of the situation?

Though The Dive will be regarded by many as a no-frills, low-thrills affair, it is pointedly effective in conveying what it is like to be involved in an improvised rescue of someone near and dear to you.

The commonsense manner in which Drew and May debate and deliberate what every next move should be might only come off as gently gripping, but it is always thoroughly convincing.

The Dive is in cinemas now



General release

Just keep walking past this sci-fi snoozer. It is the year 2065, and the climate is no longer changing. It is well on the way to totally shutting down. The same could be said of the ailing marriage of rural couple Junior (Paul Mescal) and Hen (Saoirse Ronan). These two are stuck in such a passionless rut that a dicey offer to liven up their lives seems a risk worth taking. Spoiler alert: the risk is not worth taking. That risk? Junior has been tapped by an enigmatic government rep (Aaron Pierre) to join a planned recolonisation program in space. The mysterious fed informs Junior he won’t need to worry about Hen while he’s gone. She will be supplied with an AI-powered replicant that looks, sounds and perhaps even feels just like her husband. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything. However, Foe takes an eternity to arrive at the most obvious developments that will arise from such a concept. The actors try hard throughout, but the movie gives up the ghost way too early.

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Selected cinemas from next week

Widely regarded as the greatest concert movie ever made, this irresistibly uplifting chronicle of a Talking Heads show from 1983 has lost none of its famed ability to move you as it gets you moving. The ever-changing scale of who is playing what is the key element of the genius at work here. The performance begins with lead singer David Byrne emerging alone with just a boombox and acoustic guitar for company. With each new song, a new musician is added to the line-up until the stage is jam-packed with an astonishingly tight and emotive supergroup powering through the best of the Heads’ repertoire. Elsewhere around the world, cinemas hosting this beautifully remastered version of the movie have been encouraging viewers to get out of their seats, make some noise and throw some shapes. If you can find a local screen that feels the same way (some locations are already setting aside special sessions along similar lines) then this just might be the most fun you’ll have at the cinema this year.

Originally published as Calmly and methodically best choice for underwater drama