REVIEW: Submarine (2010)

Submarine tells the coming of age tale of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), an exceedingly intelligent but equally delusional 15 year old boy. Oliver has two key intentions: one, to prevent an old flame whisking away his mother and two, to deal with the upheaval of high school. Oh- and of course to lose his virginity before his upcoming birthday.

Richard Ayoade’s directing debut is refreshing, up to date and clever, almost as clever as Oliver himself. Narration running throughout the film gives the impression that you are not just watching Oliver’s life through the screen, but you are also inside his mind. He recalls old memories, past thoughts and former feelings as well as providing us with new ones.

Oliver undoubtedly has a tendency to over imagine situations, one being how his class mates would react to his death (shrines, tears and candle lit parades is one way to sum it up). He struggles to understand the twists and turns as he walks through the maze of adolescence and attempts to uncover the workings of the mind. Life seems to be causing chaos in his brain but pining for Jordanna Bevan (Yasmin Paige) with her distinct red coat, eczema ridden hands and her fondness for setting alight boys legs hair in moments of intimacy keeps him highly preoccupied.

Submarine isn’t the typical American coming of age John Hughes style movie. Nobody parades around on carnival floats singing The Beatles’ Twist and Shout. This story of Oliver’s life is almost the opposite. Submarine is brought together with an array of stylistic devices and titled segments to represent the changes in Oliver’s life. Soft lighting is regularly used throughout and the film contains consecutive beautifully shot scenes of the sea as a way of embracing it’s welsh setting. As Oliver’s relationship with Jordanna heightens the calm is switched with fire and their affection is shown through sparks, flames and a range of unique shots through a kaleidoscope.

Oliver’s twisted mind allows black humour to weave itself throughout the film. Submarine is difficult to pinpoint to a certain genre due to its ability to make you feel everything at once. If Craig Robert’s acting wasn’t enough to set your emotions in uproar then I can assure you that you are able to rely on a wonderful soundtrack from Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner to leave you reaching for the tissue box.

Witty and worthy of attention, Submarine carries a newer side to British film on its back. The simple plot allows you to concentrate both your eyes and your mind on the creativity that you can see on screen and this is thoroughly complimented through the style in which it is filmed. Brilliantly clever without the added arrogance of a film that’s tried too hard.

(You can read my book review of Submarine by Joe Dunthorne here.)

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