Submarine (15)

Film

Comedy

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue Mar 15 2011

This is a spirited and warm film debut from TV comic Richard Ayoade, best known as an actor on ‘The IT Crowd’ and a little less as a one-time writer and director of ‘Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’ for Channel 4 – as well as a maker of music videos for the likes of the Arctic Monkeys. Ayoade’s background is in telly, but his film is proudly cinematic – so much so that its big-screen influences are almost its defining characteristics.

Adapted from Joe Dunthorne’s 2008 novel, ‘Submarine’ is a retro coming-of-age tale about a teenage boy shell-shocked by everyday life in 1980s Wales. This is the story of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a schoolboy whose life is a movie  in his head, which explains why his parents, played brilliantly by Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins, are such impenetrable but telling caricatures, weighed down by the hang-ups and deficiencies Oliver affords them.

This unhappy, stiff-backed couple haven’t had sex for seven months, Oliver tells us, and he only knows this because the dimmer switch in their bedroom hasn’t been set to a telling, in-the-mood level for just that long. The meat of the film – and its bittersweet, beating heart – is an awkward romance between Oliver and Jordana (Yasmin Paige), a guarded, knowing girl with a biting wit who wears a ‘Don’t Look Now’ red duffle coat, carries a similar dodgy fringe and whose own family problems are revealed as gradually as she gives herself over to Oliver. Their pairing is cutting and cute.

We hear Oliver in voiceover perhaps more than we hear him in the flesh and it’s these thoughts which inspire Ayoade’s direction. A neurotic and smart boy, Oliver over-imagines his death as a series of flash-forwards of fellow pupils mourning his passing. He talks of zooms and crane shots and when a bullied peer falls into a pond he observes the horror in freeze frame and commentates on the action.

The storytelling style which Ayoade lunges for with uncynical reverence and a cinephile’s passion (and maybe a little over randily at times – how many times can you evoke the final shot on the beach in ‘The 400 Blows’?) is a holy trinity of the French new wave, mannered American indies of the late ’90s and superior British domestic comedy. It’s a winning combination which sees sparks of imagination flying from most scenes. The shadow of 1960s French cinema falls most heavily over the film. Even the colour and type of the opening credits scream ‘Godard!’. It’s a fast-moving film and very much a director’s piece. There are jump cuts, flashes back and forwards, imaginary episodes and chapter headings. Nothing stays still for long and actors are often seen in silence. Maybe that’s why Paddy Considine’s exaggerated turn as Oliver’s loony neighbour, a spiritual life coach, feels exuberant and out of place.

‘Submarine’ is total first-person cinema and Ayoade runs with it to stress that other people are both intriguing and unknowable. We’re told that Oliver’s dad, an expert in fish, once had an Open University TV show called ‘Mysteries of the Deep’. It’s those same mysteries on dull, everyday dry land with which ‘Submarine’ has so much fun.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Mar 18, 2011

Duration:

97 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.5 / 5

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LiveReviews|23
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Fred

Really great movie, superb soundtrack by Alex Turner and good actors. This film is really well done. Congrats Richard

LisaThatcher

I thought this film was sweet, though I confess the endless references to coming of age films before it (starting with The 400 blows - I think the classroom scenes were direct from this film as well and the repeated beach scenes) and working its way through time examples of the genre made me feel as though we all had to pay attention to the director. I get the feeling everything is sublimated to the showcase of the directors brilliance in this film, including the book. I loved Noah Taylor, but other than that, it was too quirky and not quite funny enough. But, everyone is so LIKABLE it makes it difficult to hate.

franco martelli

This is nothing like the French new wave like some reviews suggest. It's basically a poor copy of Wes Andersons rushmore and transporting. The soundtrack is cheesy which wes Andersons soundtracks are not. It's not very funny, in fact I was struggling to laugh. The attempt at a godard and wes Anderson titles and chapters again came off as a half baked copy of the masters and emotionally the film never tackled anything head on , I felt I was being told how to feel rather than feeling anything for myself. There was no tension or build up in this film either. Paddy condtantines character was so poorly executed and student like in humour as well as no bother what so ever to go into why and the specifics of his character. It's like a script editor devised to take out any thought provoking aspects of this film yet they package it like it is some intellectual tjought provoking film. To me its two dimensional and extremely un original due to the lifting of a large number of films and ideas. A godard style graphic, a homage to don't look back and the graduate and a blatant copy of wes Anderson and transporting don't make it like those films. Just a hollow death of film. Shocking to me this is called a fresh new british hope. That statement alone shows the poor state of originality in the UK film industry. The few positives, it had some ok to nice cinematography at times (apart from the self indulgent non related stuff) and the parents were ok, if not over the top when they had dialog. The lead was intending yet a little fast and unconvincing at times with his pacing. I hope this does not start a lot of films lifting and copying scenes and styles. I would say a total original style would be fresh for british film, not this dishwasher half baked attempt.

col

Really enjoyed this film, lovely characters, funny bittersweet storyline & the music so captures the mood of the film. Well done all concerned.

thomoj

Witty, offbeat, unpretentious and charming. Everything many comedy/coming-of-age flicks try and utterly fail to be, and then some.

thomoj

Witty, offbeat, unpretentious and charming. Everything many comedy/coming-of-age flicks try and utterly fail to be, and then some.

DV

Excellent film, full of pathos. One minute touching, the next hilarious. Great first movie from RA and everyone else involved. Check it out.

DV

Excellent film, full of pathos. One minute touching, the next hilarious. Great first movie from RA and everyone else involved. Check it out.

Marcia

Excellent. There was clapping at the end of the performance I attended, so assume the rest of the audience thought it was as good as I did.

Mike

Superbly observed angst of teenage years – and leaves you in no doubt, you wouldn’t want to be a teenager again. The casting’s excellent – particularly Oliver and wannabe pyromaniac Jordana, though it goes without saying that Sally Hawkins was brilliant as Oliver’s mum. I thought the styling, and attention to detail of 1970’s rural Wales was very well observed, with excellent photography and lighting. I thought the film consistently amusing from start to finish – in particular I howled with laughter over Oliver’s attempts to woo Jordana with the gift of a box of her favourite matches, and his typically teenage dazed/smug/disbelieving look minutes after he and Jordana had made out for the first time. Definitely one of my favourite films so far this year, and sufficiently enjoyable to go out and buy the book straight away. Four stars.

Sutton

This is excellent film It’s a witty ‘coming of age’ film. The film had loads of funny moments and was beautifully shot. The lead actors were all good. Plus, it’s great to see an original British comedy that doesn’t revolve around Colin Firth / Simon Pegg / Hugh Grant.

Phil Ince

>>After the dreary arthouse po-faced Archipelago what a relief to see a home grown film which is movie-literate and bounces along with a deadpan humour which makes you chuckle quietly throughout>> There was more and louder laughter for Archipelago than for Submarine when I saw it a couple of weeks ago. This did get a some chuckles though - maybe a Friday afternoon audience wasn't the most receptive?

Ian

What a fab film! Funny, very droll, and wittily edited and shot. After the dreary arthouse po-faced Archipelago what a relief to see a home grown film which is movie-literate and bounces along with a deadpan humour which makes you chuckle quietly throughout. Definitely a leaf out of Wes Anderson's book but the British humour and references makes it better for me. Can't wait to see what he does next.

Ian

What a fab film! Funny, very droll, and wittily edited and shot. After the dreary arthouse po-faced Archipelago what a relief to see a home grown film which is movie-literate and bounces along with a deadpan humour which makes you chuckle quietly throughout. Definitely a leaf out of Wes Anderson's book but the British humour and references makes it better for me. Can't wait to see what he does next.

PrinceLeopold

Film is initially (too) slow to engage. But despite unbearably high cringe factor it has some merit tho.

critique

Distinctive, intelligent and humorous entertainment. Stands alongside `Biutiful` as the most impressive film I`ve seen in cinemas this year.