Release Date: 2010
Director: Richard Ayoade
Why I picked this: The trailer looked really nice, and I like Richard Ayode’s TV work
This is a very smart, amusing, and unique coming-of-age story. A little Wes Anderson-ish in nature, but I would say that it is more mature than say, “Rushmore.” The mature elements in “Submarine” just seem more realistic, and the movie as a whole, though weird and quirky, only subtly reaches some sort of hyperreality. It is a very self-aware movie with a very perceptive protagonist in Oliver Tate, played by Craig Roberts. The movie’s narrative takes you inside and out of his mind, and it is quite a journey. Oliver makes notice things that the audience notices as well and he has a very precise manner of expressing his thoughts; it is all well fitting of this somewhat hyperreal and meta direction from first-time film director Richard Ayoade. Oliver is a 15-year old boy with conflicts on two fronts of his personal life; his romantic life and his family life. He is smitten for a girl named Jordana, played by Yasmin Paige. She is not perfect, and in fact can come across as manipulative, but they eventually find a connection with each other. Not wanting to fall to the cliches of relationships, she sometimes keeps emotional distance from Oliver, who expresses uncertainty with how to handle this relationship. It is a more complex look at young love compared to other movies such as Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.” Meanwhile, Oliver has observed that his parents’ marriage has stagnated, and later, even suspects an affair with his mother and her former boyfriend Graham, amusingly played by Paddy Considine. As mentioned, Oliver’s mind takes us through an interesting road, showing his entire thought process behind his observations. He asks intelligent and small questions to his parents that reveal a lot more. While his plans aren’t exactly the best, they are at least smart in design and show how good-intentioned he is. Ayoade’s direction has a great stylistic and sometimes surreal approach; it perfectly matches the characters and events of the movie. The humor is mostly subtle even given some of the mature subject matter. The editing is great as well; there was constant flashing back, but I never felt lost, and some scenes had a better impact on me by showing little. A schoolyard fight or a sex scene, for example, would show the lead-up and result, focusing on the faces of the characters, with complete silence. There is some great imagery in this movie, and while the music isn’t memorable, does a good job at enhancing the imagery. The acting is great on all fronts, with no weak links. While the movie just sort of… ended, it was a memorable and unique viewing experience.
Featuring a clever script, clever characters, and clever directing, this is a coming-of-age comedy with tangible romantic and family themes that is worth your attention.