Submarine is a smartly-observed coming-of-age tale that really captures the essence of teendom - namely that, as a teen, you’re a bit of an idiot. This isn’t to say the film is disrespectful of youth. It heartily celebrates it and does so with panache and a great deal of humour.
Richard Ayoade has adapted Joe Dunthorne’s 2008 novel for his captivating directorial debut. It tells the story of 15-year-old Oliver (Craig Roberts) and his first tastes of romance and the responsibilities that life heaps upon him. He convinces Jordana (Yasmin Paige) to go out with him and they enjoy setting things on fire. Meanwhile, his parents (Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor) are having marital problems which are not helped by the presence of clownish New Age guru, Graham (Paddy Considine).
It’s a neat trick Ayoade pulls with his lead man. Oliver is something of an oddball and, more notably, not hugely likeable but you do still care about him. And maybe because he is, in his own way, kinda cool. In this respect, he reminds me a little of Bud Cort in 1971’s Harold and Maude (if you haven’t seen it then give yourself a treat). There have been a few unfair accusations of rip-offery made with The Royal Tenanbaums but while there may have been a little inspiration by osmosis, Submarine stands alone as an original film. It has style in droves, is packed with laughs, and is uniquely British.
NB: Alex Turner wrote five songs specifically for the film which is a treat and sets a very particular mood.
And to my American friends, this is due for release in the States on June 3rd. Hope it makes it to a theater [sic] near you…