Written by: Adam Vaughn | August 24th, 2023
The Dive (Maximilian Erlenwein, 2023) 2 out of 4 stars.
What better movie to wrap the summer up than a story about a pair of sisters scuba diving in a remote area of the world? Director Maximilian Erlenwein’s The Dive is exactly this, the tale of May (Louisa Krause, Maggie Moore(s)) and Drew (Sophie Lowe, Medieval) whose trip turns catastrophic when falling underwater debris traps May under a pile of rock at the bottom of the ocean floor. With limited air and time left, Drew tries to use resources underwater and on shore to rescue her sister.
The film is able to do a lot with only two principal actresses and virtually no supporting cast. Aside from frequent flashbacks, Krause and Lowe are able to carry the movie with solid performances, despite a very weak and conventional script. As the film launches its exposition, the viewer is swiftly brought to the main conflict, and the clock starts ticking for what could have been a very riveting human-vs.-nature feature.
Unfortunately, what we get instead is a drawn-out premise, filled with uninteresting sequences and several distracting cuts to the past. The sibling interactions are fleeting and formulaic, and an attempt to draw out May’s character through stream-of-conscious scenarios and quick flashes to childhood moments only prolongs the main action of the narrative. The primary plot is very much in the vein of 127 Hours or The Shallows, yet tries too hard to balance a real-time survival story with a character study, resulting in a film that takes an hour-and-a-half to do what could have happened in just 40 minutes.
While The Dive has good moments, its execution is so flimsy that the content often gets lost. Erlenwein is conflicted between telling a present-day thriller and an analysis of family conflicts. The two ideas alone are interesting, but the problem is when they contradict each other. The result? A movie with major pacing issues, leaving the viewer watching ideas that have been done before. Adding onto that, the sound design while underwater is not superb. The Dive is not a major disappointment, but is far from a huge success.