Sunday, July 24, 2011

Submarine: Movie Review


Fresh, funny and twisted turns to this quirky coming-of-age tale. 

Submarine is Welsh. It opens, at least in North America it does, with a letter from its protagonist (Oliver) to Americans; educating us that Wales is a country located next to England. Although thankful that America has not yet invaded his country, Oliver informs us that this is an important film which we should treat with the utmost respect.

Directed by: Richard Ayoade

Screenplay by: Richard Ayoade

Starring: Craig Roberts and Sally Hawkins

Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate and Noah Taylor as Lloyd in
Richard Ayoade's film SUBMARINE.
Don’t worry, it’s okay to laugh; you’re supposed to. This is a teen coming-of-age comedy. Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is like a young, Welsh hero of a Wes Anderson film. Gangly and awkward he struggles with popularity in school, but when he imagines his own funeral, it's a massive affair and the entire country mourns. He bullies one girl to try and impress another but then writes a long letter not so much repenting his guilt but teaching her how to be cool. The dialogue, like Oliver, is precocious but hilarious with a surprisingly fresh feel considering how tired the genre has become.

Oliver tries to win the girl and become the best boyfriend in the world, and he also has to be the best son in the world to save his parents’ marriage. In both adventures, he uses psychology books (usually found in routine searches of his parents’ bedroom) to ensure his actions accurately reflect his intentions. If you can guess how his plans may go awry, then you are the right audience for this very funny film.

A different style than some of its contemporaries, the film doesn't go for the relatable hero routine, more like a kind, sympathetic mocking. You'll probably appreciate Oliver, and understand him, but you probably won't see yourself in him; however, some of the other characters, you just might.

Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate and Yamsin Paige as Jordana in
Richard Ayoade's film SUBMARINE.
His father, Lloyd (Noah Taylor) is a depressed marine biologist, while his mother Jill (Sally Hawkins) is inappropriately attracted to their neighbour, an old boyfriend of hers. He’s a mystic, theatrical performer, and Oliver and Lloyd are the only ones that see it for the nonsense that it is. Lloyd is like a grown-up, Welsh hero of a Wes Anderson film and I loved how they included the father of the protagonist as a main character and showed that although he was more mature, still not any more in tune with the ways of the world around him.

It has some slightly dark twists, but Submarine succeeds because it never lets up the humour or the quirky tone. Funny? Yes. Important? No, but I certainly get the joke.


Dear Lemon Lima (2009) - A smart, boy-obsessed girl creating a unique, quirky indie.

It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010) - The comedy and drama of a teen checking himself into a mental institution.

The Trotsky (2009) - Smart and funny as a teen believing he is the reincarnate of Leon Trotsky is stuck in a public high school.