DIRECTED BY: Richard Ayoade
WRITTEN BY: Richard Ayoade
STARRING: Craig Roberts, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Yasmin Paige
RATING: 2.5 stars
You can see why Submarine was a popular book. The story is almost a modern, British version of Catcher In The Rye (which everyone should read). Director and writer of the film adaptation Richard Ayoade is obviously a big fan of Joe Dunthorne's novel, but unfortunately, I don't think he's produced a film that is as successful as it should be. It's not a bad effort by Ayoade, especially considering it is his directorial debut, but it seems like the film is trying so hard to stay true to the book that it doesn't feel complete as a film.
I'm a big fan of the so-called “coming-of-age” genre and Submarine is exactly that. It tells the story of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a Welsh teenager whose goal is to lose his virginity to Jordana (Yasmin Paige) and stop his parents’ marriage from falling apart. His relationship with Jordana is complex, awkward and dramatic, like everything is when you're a teenager. However, it's his amateur detective work into his parent's lives that really provides the laughs. For example, Oliver estimates how long it’s been since his parents had sex by how dim the light switch setting is in their bedroom. Then, when he discovers that his new next-door neighbour, a bizarre mystic named Graham (Paddy Considine), is his mother's ex-boyfriend, he increases his detective work, convinced that she is going to have an affair.
Submarine is a fun British film that most Americans would hate and many Australians will admire. In typical British fashion, it's melancholic and brooding while also being quirky and strangely funny. More than anything, it reminds viewers what it was like to be a teenager and to be thankful that we're well passed that stage of our lives. Oliver's innocence through his first love experience with Jordana is sweet. At one point he tells her they should have sex because “it'll be a disappointment anyway, so might as well get it over with”. Meanwhile, his desire to “be a man” and help save his parents' marriage, although ridiculous, is also heart-warming and adorable.
The performances in this film were very good. Roberts in particular shows his comedic timing is spot on and he makes Oliver a far more likeable character than you would expect him to be. Paige also gives a good performance as the deeply troubled Jordana, while Sally Hawkins plays the kooky mother very well. Submarine is far from perfect but it has some laughs and is a relatively realistic look at teenage misery. Worth a look if you like British cinema.