Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Independent, Drama
Opens locally Friday, June 24th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Noah Taylor
Written and Directed by Richard Ayoade (directorial debut, maybe best known as Moss on the British TV series, "The IT Crowd")
Don't worry, there was no budget for real Submarines in this quirky British dramedy. Nor was there a need for real submarines, so don't let the film's title mislead you. "Submarine" is a story (adapted from the novel by Joe Dunthorne) about young love, and coming of age in a sense, shown in a real-world way where (gasp!) teenagers actually swear and want to have sex. First-time feature-film director Richard Ayoade creates a style somewhere in-between that of Noah Baumbach (The Squid & The Whale) and Wes Anderson, and the result is an odd yet funny tale about adolescence.
Oliver Tate (Roberts) is a teenage boy, perhaps best described as a British Ferris Beuller. He is clearly too intelligent for his age, a superior intellect given the begrudging task of having to work his way through school. Like Beuller, the entire film is seen through his eyes, so it is one-part teenage angst and another part youthful innocence. Oliver is pretty much obsessed with fellow classmate Jordana (Paige), and fights for her approval and attention. At the same time, there are issues at home...mom and dad's (the wonderful Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor) sex life is falling apart, and mom's ex-boyfriend (the Sam Rockwell clone Paddy Considine) has moved in next door. Oliver knows that his parents sex life is falling apart, not by knowing knowing, but by some child-like sleuthing around the house.
This film may not be for everyone, but for me it was much more relatable and funny than almost anything by Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach. The comparisons are a necessity, and if you've seen movies like The Life Aquatic, Royal Tennenbaums, or Noah Baumbach movies such as The Squid & The Whale or Greenberg, you will catch the similarities. Quirky as it may be, there are some fine performances, notably by Craig Roberts and by Noah Taylor, the down-and-out dad who is maybe more down-and-out than we usually see on-screen.
It's a film where Oliver contemplates killing Jordana's dog to save her from being depressed about her mother's illness, a movie where mom and dad sit Oliver down to have "a talk" where mom confesses giving a hand-job. These adult themes and jokes are usually spared on the teenage comedy, but the right blend is used in "Submarine" to provide a good sense of reality.
It may not be a perfect film, but it's a good film worthy of seeking out, provided you can find it lurking beneath the waves of blockbuster films due to overflow the theatres this summer.
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