August 14, 2011


Submarine is a distinctly British (specifically, Welsh) coming-of-age film with a strong, acknowledged influence from Wes Anderson. This is British actor/comic Richard Ayoade's debut feature film and, to my eternal shame, I still have not seen any of his The IT Crowd or Garth Marenghi's Dark Place. They're on the list. Meanwhile, this scene is one of my favourite ever. 

Young Oliver Tate is having a difficult time. He's a little different from other kids at school; he has a crush on Jordana Bevan, an insular pyrotechnic; and to top it all off his parent's marriage is slowly falling apart. Tate narrates these events set in the 80's, with an intelligent wit and occasionally breaking the fourth wall. Craig Roberts as Oliver more than handles his own in a cast of older, more established actors. His dialogue and delivery cracks just as much as Sally Hawkins' and he brings a soulful understanding to the strangeness he finds himself in. Yasmin Paige as the shut-off, hurt and occasionally bullying Jordana is equally impressive, never flinching from the role. There's a reason Jordana closes herself off and acts out, and it's never handled in a heavy-handed way. Paddy Considine is, of course, stonking aces as the mullet-haired self-help bullshit guru ex-flame of Oliver's mum.

Submarine is a funny film, with a  knowledge and love of cinema and cinematic conventions. Ayoade is a confident director and has done extraordinary work in balancing the smarts and the heart; compare Submarine to the more emotionally distanced Eagle vs. Shark. It's just... I was (perhaps unfairly) expecting more. I've had a difficult time writing about this film (as you can likely tell from my short, stop-start review) and I believe it's because I am still unsure what I make of it. There were my expectations and then the reality and, in the midst of the constant cinematic craziness that is Film Festival, I have not had the time to properly digest and contextualise. Submarine is a film I will revisit on general release and I look forward to getting my thoughts on it in more order.

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