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|Release Date: 18/03/2011|
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
By Ryan Casey
When you think of British cinema, you definitely think of a very distinctive style of filmmaking. One full of gritty, realistic worlds accompanied with hard-hitting social themes. Submarine adheres to this formula, yet manages to incorporate a unusual romantic style much akin to that seen in the French New Wave, thus making the film quite a unique experience.
This movie carries extra weight, due to Ben Stiller’s involvement as a producer. Add Richard Ayoade as director, better known through his on-screen performances in the acclaimed comedy ‘The IT Crowd’. Richard Ayoade making his directing debut helps propel Submarine into something of an intriguing production, and it doesn’t disappoint.
The film is a comedy/drama set in Wales, and follows the angst of fifteen year old misfit Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) coming-of-age, and his desire to forge himself a status in the world, or in this case Swansea. The opening of the movie concentrates on introducing Oliver in an extremely entertaining fashion through the use of voice over narration accompanied by clever editing and on-screen visuals. Combined with expertly scripted comedy we are presented with his over analytical nature and humorous outlook on the world. Like all love stories, Oliver is predominately focused on a girl in his class, named Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige). He has a plan to get her to notice him, with a view to eventually making her his girlfriend.
Despite Oliver winning over Jordana, the story takes a turn for the worse when Oliver’s family threatens to fall apart, as his mother Jill (Sally Hawkins) a conservative woman, becomes distracted by an old flame Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine) an eccentric bullshitter, who has just moved next door. Oliver’s father Lloyd (Noah Taylor) suffers from depression and seems incapable to muster the courage and strength to fight for his wife. Oliver is confronted by the conflict whether to be there for Jordana or save his parents’ marriage.
Each set piece of this movie is so well scripted, directed and acted it makes the film extremely believable. Ayoade has obviously drawn on elements of his own personal experiences of adolescents and deployed them to create a thoroughly engaging realistic piece of cinema that is very easy to relate to. The aspect of Submarine I was most pleasantly surprised with, was the calibre of performance from the two leads, both of whom where widely unknown. The way they portray their characters fragility and inner conflict is mesmerising at times. They are able to represent a period of adolescence recognisable to most, and the emotion they emit is very raw.
The main gripe I have with Submarine is Graham’s character played by Paddy Considine. The reason behind his inclusion to the narrative is clear enough; he is the prospective ‘home wrecker’. Considine does not play the character badly, but compared to the young actors seems almost out of his league in this one. His character just isn’t in keeping with the rest of the films aesthetic style, making him a slightly less believable element to the story that could have been toned down a touch. When Graham becomes more of a prominent character, the film's pacing goes slightly awry, which is unfortunate as it results in the film dragging towards the end right before its conclusion.
Submarine is a film not without it’s faults. However, the film possesses a naïve charm, the characters and environments present a realistic journey of self-discovery. If this is Richard Ayoade’s debut, I look forward to his future work. 3.5 stars out of 5.