The Dive


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Sophie Lowe and Louisa Krause as Drew and May in The Dive. Maximilian Erlenwein: 'It was crucial for me to make it as real and realistic as possible'
"Erlenwein deserves praise for his lean and lithe set-up that keeps delivering surprises."

There’s no time like the present in this diving thriller, neither for its two sister protagonists May (Louisa Krause) and Drew (Sophie Lowe), nor the director Maximilian Erlenwein who wastes no time in getting the two of them in the water. The pair have an evident competence and confidence as they prepare to take the dive in from a tiny jetty on an isolated and idyllic looking beach, although May seems less keen on this yearly reunion swim than Drew is.

The pair are wearing full face masks that allow them to communicate even when submerged, also permitting Erlenwein to key us more directly into their thoughts, and soon, fears. They’re not under for long before disaster strikes as a sudden rockfall catches them off guard. Worse still, it is the practical, no-nonsense May who gets trapped. With the clock ticking on her sister’s air it’s up to the more emotionally volatile Drew to go back to the surface and get their additional oxygen tanks and call for help.

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Naturally, because this is a race-against-time, nothing goes according to plan, although Erlewein and his co-writer Joachim Hedén sensibly keep things within the bounds of probability. It’s bad luck rather than anything supernatural or forced that leads Drew to be faced with a series of incredibly difficult dilemmas, which makes her choices all the more gripping. The genuine necessity of pausing while surfacing to avoid the bends also adds to the tension as she finds herself forced to make multiple trips.

A backstory about the women’s childhood, seen in very brief flashbacks, is rather underwritten by comparison, although it does allow emphasis to be drawn towards the film’s excellent sound design, which magnifies the women’s breathing. The decision to teach the actresses to scuba dive and shoot the film underwater also pays dividends as there's little of the usual CGI trickery to throw you out of the moment.

Drew may be the one most obviously in a state of panic but May, as she wrestles her own thoughts beneath the waves, knows the mantra, “The calmer you are, the less air you use”. Less would be more in terms of keeping us in the clear and present danger that May faces rather than straying to her rather sketchy issues from the past. But Erlenwein deserves praise for his lean and lithe set-up that keeps delivering surprises in terms of thrills and the women’s strength of mind and emotion right to the last.

Reviewed on: 24 Aug 2023
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Experienced scuba divers May and Drew are two sisters with a close but complex bond who go on a deep sea diving trip to a beautiful but remote beauty spot. During their dive, May is struck by a rock from a landslide above the water, leaving her trapped on the seabed 28 meters below the surface.
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Director: Maximilian Erlenwein

Writer: Maximilian Erlenwein

Starring: Sophie Lowe, Louisa Krause

Year: 2023

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: Germany


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