In Australian cinemas from today, The Dive poses the question; How far would you push yourself to save another life? Pretty far, as it turns out.
Directed by Maximillian Erlenwein on a low budget of $15 million, The Dive is a curious flick. A German/English remake of a Norwegian diving flick sporting the same premise. A pair of somewhat estranged sisters meet up for their ritual dive, a passion inherited from their father, while hashing out deep-seated, dysfunctional family trauma. A rock slide interrupts this process, trapping stoic May (Louisa Krause) deep underwater. It is up to the princess of the pair, Drew (Sophie Lowe) to rally against time, stress and self doubt while coming up with a way to free May.
Along the way, despite circumstance, the pair still find ways to escalate their personal drama.
The Dive’s opening is as generic as they come, introducing Drew and May driving to their chosen dive site and touching on their interpersonal conflicts. This threatens to be a plodding first ten minutes but once we reach the water, The Dive shines in its utilisation of underwater photography. The film has been meticulously shot on location both above and below the surface off Malta. A feat deserving of its own documentary and in director Maximilian Erlenwein’s own words, “Filmmaking is difficult enough, but underwater…it’s ridiculous.” (screenrant).
However, what Maximilian brings to the table is his personal passion for diving, his reason for taking on the project. The result is a stunning journey beneath the surface. Showcasing a world rarely seen, by those of us with dry feet, in spectacularly cinematic high definition. The cinematographers and stunt team assembled for this film are purported to be diving industry professionals first, filmmakers second.
The simple plot mechanics of this story is supported by passionate, believable performances from Louisa and Sophie. The initial chemistry struggles, albeit it can be argued that’s the point of the two different individual characters, united only by genetics and diving. Their enemy, the lurking beast driving them forward, is time. What follows are grounded, plausible attempts to macgyver each other out of an impossible situation.
Fans of Podcast and YouTube dive disaster deconstruction stories will find something to love here.
As Drew desperately tries to execute each theory periodically discussed with a fading May, each step meets a hurdle or blockage that needs a new plan to be overcome. The frustration and fear in Sophie’s performance mounts through ninety minutes of frenetic struggle as each road block must be overcome to save May from suffocation. The pace is breathless, with little time to decompress.
Louisa Krause’s presence, trapped below the surface, is not wasted as May spends most of her screen time reflecting on family trauma, fading in and out of reality as her oxygen drains.
The Dive is an easy 7/10 stashed oxygen tanks. In Aussie cinemas now, you’d be remiss not to catch this beautifully executed, low budget production on the big screen. Get on it, it’s worth a ticket!