“Plonger”, a French film that explores the deep waters of Oman

“Plonger” (2017) is a French drama film directed by Mélanie Laurent that revolves around a cross-cultural couple who separate after the birth of their child. The film travels along the coasts of the Sultanate of Oman, Paris, Saint-Nazaire, and the beaches of Cantabria in Spain. It was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017, Busan International Film Festival 2017, and Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018, where it garnered praise from specialized critics.  

This is Mélanie Laurent’s fourth production as director, after an excellent experience with “Les adoptés” (2011), “Breathe” (2014) and the documentary “Tomorrow” (2015). Laurent had already established herself as a successful actress after her performances in “Inglourious Basterds” (2009), “Beginners” (2010), “Now You See Me” (2013), “Enemy” (2013), among others, and now she shows us her talent and sensitivity behind the camera.  

Produced by Bruno Lévy for Move Movie and co-produced by France 2 Cinéma and Cinéfrance, “Plonger” is an adaptation of Christophe Ono-Di-Biot’s novel, with  screenplay co-written by Laurent, Julien Lambroschini, Chris Deslandes and Charlotte Farcet. The plot tells the passionate love story of Paz and César. Following the arrival of their son, the fatigue of their daily routines, and the relationship challenges they faced, the couple’s journey together reaches its conclusion.

Paz, played by María Valverde, is a restless Spanish photographer who loves new experiences. César, played by Gilles Lellouche, is a French journalist and former war reporter who seeks the opposite, isolation from the tumult and noise. Paz eventually abandons César and her son without explanation, to find herself and embark on a dive into the deep waters of Oman, Spain, and France. 

The film, which is intriguing and takes visual advantage of the setting of part of the plot in Oman and its diving sites, shows the vulnerability of the characters in a raw way, also thanks to great acting by the actors, and features some surprisingly original elements. The strengths of the film are the photography, the mise-en-scene, and the editing constantly affirm its freshness. 

Paz’s journey takes us to see the beauty of Oman’s coastline and, above all, the not-so-well-known practice of scuba diving. Known for its vast deserts, Oman hides treasures under the sea that surprise every visitor. From Muscat to Salalah via the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, the beaches are known for turquoise waters, endless bays, and white sands. This makes them an ideal place for diving as shown in the film “Plonger”, although Oman is a little-known diving destination. 

Not all the beauty of the coastal area is within reach of our eyes. You have to dive in the turquoise waters to discover the diversity of marine life, without the crowds of divers or boats found in more touristy places. In Salalah, in the south of Oman is situated on the coast of the Arabian Sea, you can dive among kelp forests and coral reefs, something unique. In Mirbat, a small bay, the corals are full of exotic marine animals. In the north of the country is the largest variety and the best diving spots, and it is an unexplored coast, with hardly any human footprint. This remote land is bathed by the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, with rich nutrients that attract varied and abundant marine life. 

One of the best spots to experience the marine magic in Oman is the Daymaniyat Islands, north of Muscat. These small, rocky islands are surrounded by coral reefs. It is the first Marine Nature Reserve in the country, as it is an important destination where turtles lay their eggs. And there, under the sea, a surprising, varied, and colorful marine life awaits us. These nine paradisiacal islands are really a small desert in the middle of the Gulf of Oman. Muscat, the capital of Oman, is a thriving metropolis with a vibrant economy that, in addition to diving, captivates tourists year after year. Muscat is highlighted by breathtaking sites such as the Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve, the sands of Wahiba, the rainforests of Salalah, the refreshing water canyons of Jebel Shams, and the wadis of Wadi Bani Khalid. 

With more than 3,000 kilometers of coastline, diving in Oman is spectacular. The Arabian Sea offers a unique experience for divers and snorkelers alike. From the Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve to the stunning Musandam, every dive site in Oman reveals something extraordinary. The nutrient-rich, warm-temperature waters of the Arabian Sea attract many marine species to Oman’s pristine waters.  

In “Plonger” we can only see a small demonstration of the secrets of the coast of Oman, a place that gets all the attention. Skillful photography work brought this French production to the unexplored areas of Oman. The film uses evocative imagery, striking locations, and great sound design to depict the internal struggle of the protagonists. “Plonger” reflects Paz’s oppression and Cesar’s pain in a dramatic story that turns tragic. It is a captivating film that helps us get to know another side of the Middle East, a must-see destination for contemporary filmmakers. 

More details about “Plonger” on IMDb.

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