The Dive (2023) comes from a long line of survival movies to provide gripping and intense thrills. Adapted from the 2020 Norwegian movie ‘Breaking Surface,’ German director Maximilian Erlenwein shifts the snowy backdrop of the original to a stunning yet isolated deep-diving location. Although most of the movie unfolds within the eerie depths of the ocean, The Dive primarily tells the story of two sisters who have grown apart over time.
The Dive (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The Dive begins with two sisters, May and Drew, driving to a breathtaking view of the endless ocean. During their car ride, the two sisters engage in awkward small talk, with Drew showing more interest in getting to know her elder sister, May. On the other hand, May appears quiet and uninterested, even when Drew encourages her to sing along to “Only You” by The Platters, purely for nostalgic reasons. Simultaneously, it becomes apparent that Drew has been staying with their mother, and some past incidents have strained May’s relationship with the family, leading to a sense of distance.
The film establishes the sisters as deep-sea divers planning to dive in a remote location known among divers. As they arrive at a rocky mountainside, the sisters analyze the area, prepare their diving equipment, and descend the steep terrain that takes to the diving spot. Finding a suitable spot, May secures two backup cylinders along with their backpack, which contains items like car keys and mobile phones. While May assembles the diving equipment featuring the latest technology, Drew again tries to initiate a conversation with her sister. However, she only receives concise responses from May based on the interaction. After getting geared up, the sisters finally plunge into the cold water – however, just before entering the water, May tells Drew that she is very lucky.
What does Drew and May decide to explore underwater?
Descending slowly into the water, May follows Drew as they head toward the deep caves they had chosen to explore. Drew is excited to be underwater with her sister again and is determined to make the most of this experience. Going from 50 feet to even greater depths, the sisters navigate through the narrow cave pathway. Upon reaching a point 30 feet further inside the cave, they discover a comfortable spot and decide to ascend to a position 20 feet inside the cave. Here, the water level allows them to breathe without using oxygen masks. At this moment, Drew takes the opportunity to ask May about her feelings regarding the dive and how she’s holding up, prompting us to wonder about the history between the sisters. However, May avoids this confrontational exchange and instead dives back into the water, swimming out of the cave into an open space, leaving Drew to follow her anxiously.
Why does May stop responding to Drew’s calls?
As May stops to respond to Drew’s calls, a noticeable silence surrounds the film, causing us to anticipate a forthcoming threat. During this tense atmosphere, May, Drew, and we realize that a possible landslide has caused mountain rocks to fall deep into the ocean. Due to their distance, May unfortunately becomes trapped under some of these boulders, leaving Drew in shock. With May’s whereabouts unknown, Drew switches on her torch. However, the mixture of debris and ocean sand in the water creates near-zero visibility, making her unable to see anything.
How does Drew decide to help May?
Unable to communicate with her sister through their comms, Drew decides to descend to a greater depth. She secures herself to a rock, using it as an anchor. Navigating through the narrow passages between the rocks, she follows a trail and eventually reaches May, who signals her location by shining her light toward Drew. At first, Drew tries to lift the rock but fails. May then devises a plan: Drew must return to the surface to retrieve extra oxygen cylinders and a jack from the car, allowing them to lift the heavy rock. This plan, however, comes with a strict time limit of 20 minutes. Initially reluctant and confused, Drew gradually realizes the urgency of the situation. It dawns on her that she needs to approach this situation calmly and efficiently to save her sister, who is running low on oxygen.
What happens when Drew dives back to the surface?
Upon surfacing, Drew discovers that the two spare cylinders and the bag are trapped beneath the collapsed rocks, making them inaccessible. With no alternative, Drew makes her way up the cliff and heads towards the parked car. Recalling the keys inside the bag, she breaks the car window using a rock. However, her attempt to open the trunk is met with frustration as she finds it jammed. Not willing to give up, she uses her small knife to slit open the backseat, hoping to access the trunk. Despite her efforts, she fails to reach the back trunk.
With time ticking away, Drew resorts to a map and realizes there is a possible house nearby. She retrieves the two spare cylinders from the car, descends the cliff, and checks the oxygen level in her cylinder. Just before reentering the water, she spots a boat. Realizing that her 20-minute window is rapidly closing, she grabs one of the cylinders and plunges back into the water. However, as she makes the dive, the cylinder slips from her grasp and sinks. Returning to May, Drew explains that she needs to retrieve the fallen cylinder and will leave her sister with her own air supply. Drew plans to free-dive to retrieve the cylinder, emphasizing the situation’s urgency.
Meanwhile, May has been grappling with her inner demons underwater, a struggle aggravated by the effects of nitrogen narcosis. During this ordeal, she becomes aware of the fact that Drew’s oxygen cylinder pipe has been leaking. Once Drew retrieves the fallen cylinder, the sisters switch their oxygen supply. At this point, Drew informs May about the spare tanks and the nearby house. She also tells her about the boat and her intention to surface and seek help. In response, May warns Drew about the importance of decompressing properly and cautions her about the leaking issue of the oxygen pipe.
Does Drew find any help as she expected?
Despite understanding the nature of the situation and the potential consequences, Drew decides to head towards the location she had spotted on the map, holding onto the hope that she might find help. She races toward the building, which turns out to be a church and no one around. She breaks inside, trying to find any tool that might help her with the car, and before leaving, she leaves behind an SOS message on the map, hoping it might catch someone’s attention.
Amid her search, Drew comes across a hammer, then runs back to the car, trying to break the trunk open. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, leaving Drew rolling the car down the hill as a last resort. However, this plan hits another roadblock when she realizes there is no jack inside the vehicle but an air pressure foaming spray that fixes punctures. Spotting a broken signboard nearby, Drew takes the wooden pole, hoping it might help overturn the boulder.
Is Drew able to help May?
We then see Drew using the puncture spray to mend her oxygen pipe before returning to May. Plagued by traumatic memories from her past, May finds herself in a trance-like state due to elevated nitrogen levels in her body. Undeterred, Drew uses the wooden pole to lift the boulder, using May’s waning strength to help her—however, the pole snaps. At the same time, Drew realizes that the cylinder she had fixed on the surface has also gotten jammed due to the foam she applied.
Tired and running out of oxygen, the two women are completely out of ideas, and May starts to lose hope, requesting Drew to go back up. In a moment of ingenuity, Drew devises another plan: she suggests using her inflatable BCD (buoyancy control device) jacket beneath the rock to use it as an airlift. Nevertheless, the pressure causes the safety valve of the jacket to release air. Drew then decides to surface again, intending to return with the air-foaming spray. She plans to fill the jacket’s valve with the foam, allowing it to generate enough lift to dislodge the boulder and free May.
The Dive (2023) Movie Ending Explained:
What had happened to May in the past?
Meanwhile, at this point in the film, we uncover the seed of May’s trauma: her childhood memories reveal that her father subjected her to extreme underwater breathing exercises, pushing her beyond her limits. It becomes clear that her father treated her harshly, insisting that she learn deep-sea diving regardless of her struggles and difficulties with the practice.
Do Drew and May survive in the end?
Since Drew free-dived to the surface and back and used all her energy to free her sister from the boulder, she had completely ignored her rising nitrogen level, leading her to collapse underwater. May reacts swiftly, taking Drew to the breathing chamber within the cave they initially dived into. However, the chamber is tiny, and the air inside has turned toxic. May then searches for the filled cylinder, positioning it strategically between two rocks and releasing its valve, allowing the cylinder’s oxygen to fill the chamber with fresh oxygen to help Drew breathe. Upon discovering Drew unconscious and not breathing, May performs CPR, successfully reviving her. May then carries Drew on her back, and the two sisters somehow free-dive back to the surface.
The ending of The Dive (2023) shows May and Drew sitting on the diving spot, tightly hugging one another, finally overcoming their near-death experience.