Submerge

DIRECTOR: Sophie O'Connor

Expected to attend: actor Lily Hall and screenwriter/producer Kat Holmes.

“You’re losing focus!” snaps Jordan’s mom to her swimming-star daughter. Mom doesn’t know the half of it. The athletic university student has added another extracurricular activity to her over-scheduled life—seducing her tutor, Angie, while working for Angie’s professor partner. Bi best friend Lucas teases Jordan that she’s an over-achiever, but not even over-achieving Jordan can keep all these balls in the air indefinitely.

Set to a propulsive pop beat, the sparse dialogue and alternately meditative and frenetic editing capture the university experience, where everything seems possible but the plethora of choices becomes its own kind of burden. Not a coming-out story, Submerge gives us a protagonist comfortable with her sexuality. Instead, it examines the consequences of saying ‘yes’ to everything, whether it be dropping E, an academic research project, or a little bondage at the local sex club. Angie quizzes Jordan, half-enviously, about bi Lucas’s equal-opportunity approach to romance: “How does he keep track?”

Campus life on this Australian beachfront is full of sun-kissed flesh, and Jordan’s college experimentation includes both drugs and sex in all its many-splendored varieties. But as the round of study, swimming, clubbing, and sex speeds faster and faster, mom’s advice to “stay hydrated” doesn’t cut it. Jordan has to make a decision about what she wants out of life—before the decision is made for her.

— MONICA NOLAN

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