If Moss from the I.T. Crowd were to make a film it would look a lot like Submarine. Which makes perfect sense since Submarine is his feature film debut, or that of the actor who plays him, Richard Ayoade. Based on the novel by Joe Dunthorne, it is a visually inventive, atmospheric entry into the coming of age genre. The adventures of the precocious fifteen-year old Oliver Tate are punctuated by some fantastic weirdness, enlivening what will be a fairly familiar story to most moviegoers.
Oliver (Craig Roberts, Jane Eyre) lives with his parents Lloyd (Noah Taylor, Flirting) and Jill Tate (Sally Hawkins, Happy Go Lucky) in a picturesque town in Wales. Convinced of his own brilliance, even if his peers remain skeptical, Oliver plots the day when a movie based on his own life will hit the screens. He fantasizes in great detail about his own funeral (a brilliant sequence) and has his sights set on pretty Jordana (Yasmin Paige, Murderland) who has eczema and a penchant for bullying.
Writer/director Richard Ayoade, who has directed some music videos, displays a hand behind the camera that is not only sure but also capable of unique feeling and wit. Working with cinematographer Erik Wilson (Tyrannosaur), he creates a great sense of place with images that are pretty but also grittily atmospheric.
The film’s centre is the eccentric Oliver, who is neurotic and intense about almost everything. His obsessive documentation of his parent’s struggling relationship, including their physical one, generates laughs but also comes from a heartfelt place that most people will recognize. Craig Roberts does a great job with Oliver’s idiosyncrasies especially in ensuring they remain rooted in the real. As the object of his affection, Yasmin Paige is also terrific. Jordana is beautiful and interesting but also has the capacity for cruelty, evident in her bullying of an overweight girl. It is refreshing to see a film, particularly a comedy, with such fully realized teenage characters. Films like Submarine and the recent The French Kissers feel like a welcome antidote against the current wave of vapid Hollywood teen comedies.
Submarine is released in Australia on September 8th
Director: Richard Ayoade
Cast: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine.