fri 14/06/2024

Submarine | reviews, news & interviews



Richard Ayoade's impressive debut finds ample comedy in teenage turmoil

Growing Pains: Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige in 'Submarine'

Comedian Richard Ayoade’s kinetic, charismatic and accomplished directorial debut follows an introspective adolescent with his feet clamped firmly on dry land but with his head all at sea. In Submarine, our protagonist haplessly negotiates the quagmire of first love, whilst simultaneously dealing with his parents’ romantic disillusionment.

An adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s acclaimed novel, Submarine tells the story of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), an utterly unremarkable 15-year-old living in a Welsh village who is elevated to greatness, albeit only in his own mind. Oliver is a dictionary-reading daydreamer, “inbetweener” and sometime pyromaniac on a quest to win the heart of the sardonic, “moderately unpopular” Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige). The film is divided dramatically into three parts entitled "Jordana Bevan", "Graham Purvis" and, most promisingly, "Show Down".

Oliver’s parents, Jill and Lloyd Tate (shrewdly played by Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor respectively), are a rather uptight pair in the midst of a marital crisis. The concerned Oliver has been monitoring his parents’ sexual activity via use of the dimmer switch in their bedroom which, when set to halfway, means they’ve “been at it”.

graham_paddy_considine_in_submarine_zl5j0033Jill’s ex, the aforementioned Graham Purvis - an adroitly cast though perhaps not fully utilised Paddy Considine (pictured right) - has just moved in next door and, using a powerful combination of flattery, mysticism and a truly spectacular mullet, is beginning to turn Jill’s head. Initially bemused by a man he at first identifies as a ninja (based on his back-garden martial antics), when Oliver then stakes out one of Graham’s motivational talks and finds the audience enthralled by his cod-philosophy, Oliver concludes that his father can’t compete, and sets about meddling.

Lloyd Tate, we are told, has suffered bouts of depression since losing his job presenting the Open University series “Mysteries of the Deep”, due to his “uneasy screen presence” and not knowing what to do with his hands. When he learns of his son’s burgeoning romance with Jordana he proffers some unique relationship advice and presents him thoughtfully with a compilation tape - which subsequently provides the soundtrack to Oliver’s relationship (in reality, new material from Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner).

Many will recognise first-time writer/director Richard Ayoade from his television work; he is best known for his role as Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd and his appearances in The Mighty Boosh and Nathan Barley. Ayoade was also the co-creator and star of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Man to Man with Dean Learner. Additionally, he has worked extensively as a music-video director, producing videos for Arctic Monkeys, Super Furry Animals, Vampire Weekend and Kasabian.

In Submarine, Ayoade reveals his considerable cine-literacy. The obvious but unavoidable comparison is with the work of Wes Anderson (reinforced by the presence of Noah Taylor from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), in particular his masterful portrait of an unusual adolescent, Rushmore. Ayoade also makes repeated reference to Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, which figures prominently in the film’s denouement, while other sequences recall the work of Polanski, Godard and Truffaut. Ayoade has also mentioned that Eric Rohmer’s Love in the Afternoon provided particular inspiration.

Watch the trailer for Submarine

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As our ordinary hero Oliver Tate, Craig Roberts gives an assured, likeable performance; he is delightfully shifty and precociously philosophical. His wide-eyed drollery makes him the British answer to Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg. As well as being a seasoned child performer, Roberts has recently been expertly employed as an inept vampire in the BBC series Being Human and its online spin-off, Becoming Human.

Cynical yet amiable, Submarine’s visual audacity and comedic gusto belie its modest setting and prosaic coming-of-age subject matter. It’s a film that is quietly anarchic, frequently heartfelt and, above all, hilarious. Though it loses momentum somewhat toward the end, Submarine is a mightily impressive debut.

Submarine’s visual audacity and comedic gusto belie its modest setting and prosaic coming-of-age subject matter

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Looking forward to this!

I recommend to be view , an excellent film ... Jean-Pierre Marcel

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