Year: 2010 (2011 U.S.)
Director: Richard Ayoade
Writers: Richard Ayoade (screenplay), Novel by Joe Dunthorne
County of Origin: UK
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 :1
Rating: R
35mm, Color, 97 mins

Synopsis: The dryly precocious, soon-to-be-fifteen-year-old hero of this engagingly offbeat story, Oliver Tate lives in the seaside town of Swansea, Wales. His objectives? Uncovering the secrets behind his parents’ teetering marriage, unraveling the mystery that is his alluring and equally quirky classmate Jordana Bevan, and understanding where he fits in among the pansexuals, Zoroastrians, and other mystifying, fascinating beings in his orbit. (Source)


Review: Submarine is pretty awesome. Let’s get that out of the way. English director Richard Ayoade, who’s been cutting his teeth starring in the Brit sitcom The IT Crowd, has gotten his first shot to sit behind the director’s chair for a feature-length and created something that we’re not used to seeing these days. Though it’s all very self-aware and might be a little too hipster for some, what I loved about it was that after the hipster filter was removed there was a very sincere, quirky, and innocent story underneath that is surprisingly optimistic.

The movie is about Oliver Tate (played brilliantly by Craig Roberts), who’s a 15-year-old dreamer. He fantasizes about his death impacting all of Wales, sets his goals on a moderately popular pyromaniac girl, and reads the dictionary for fun, among other things. This is actually his coming-of-age story, since he’s at the point in his young life where he figures out that not everything is in his control (I loved the plot about him trying to save his parents’ marriage), and while these types of stories are the toughest to do, this movie gets points for doing it in an oddly surreal, non-cynical way. The dialogue is also very sharp, lightning paced, and the humor is as poignant as it is funny, thankfully avoiding all the “awkward humor” that I’m kind of sick of now. Btw….

Anyhoo, the main draw for me was that stylistically and thematically, Submarine is basically Jean Luc-Godard for teens. Say what? While some will immediately dismiss it as a Wes Anderson knock-off, what Ayoade does here is go straight to the source of Anderson’s biggest influences, namely French New Wave or Nouvelle Vague. While I’ve seen the obvious comparisons to Rushmore, I actually felt that it resembled Godard’s Contempt a lot more. Anyone familiar with the the aforementioned film will immediately notice the color schemes, type treatments, editing, contrasting storyline of new/ending relationships, and even Andrew Hewwitt’s score which strongly “borrows” from Georges Delerue’s. With all that said, it’s all reverently done, but what makes the movie worth it is that Ayoade uses his own sense of style, tone, and rhythm, and most importantly it’s done through the eyes of a self-destructive yet ultimately optimistic teen. So yeah, it’s not all doom and gloom, although there is a bit of that sprinkled in for good measure.

To aid Oliver in his quest to grow up, we have a great cast featuring Yasmin Paige (darling of the year) as Jordana the straight-talking pyromaniac with an Anna Karina haircut, the brilliant Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor as Oliver’s parents, and Paddy Considine as a new-age mullet wearing mystic. His part gets a little too Napoleon Dynamite, but it works in service to the story pretty well.

With Submarine, Ayoade has proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with and that he has a very keen eye for style, while still creating something that also has substance. I did feel like I was a just a teeny bit too old for the subject matter, but it still had a lot of universal themes to identify with. Everyone should check this one out, it’s a great debut and a great escape from all the Hollywood blockbusters currently flooding the theaters.

Crome Rating: 3.9/5

P.S. Check out this cool anatomy of a scene featurette, by Ayoade.