Submarine – the first movie offering from Richard Ayoade

Ayoade has given us some awesome viewing material over the last few years, from Garth Marenghi’s Dark Side, to Saboo in the Mighty Boosh and the successful TV comedy the IT Crowd. Submarine is no exception, its dark in places, it’s comedic and it kept me glued to the screen throughout.Submarine

Our protagonist, Oliver Tate, is an insensitive control freak lacking boundary all wrapped up in the insecurity and selfishness of a teenage body. He’s the intelligent kid who can’t get past his creative, number crunching brain to stick to social convention long enough to become accepted.  He wants to be accepted by his peers, willing to bully the fat kid, but also is plagued with guilt when said fat kid moves schools, over analysing details to the point of distraction. His social deficiencies are magnified by his love interest throughout the film, the pretty, popular pyromaniac Jordana. Banning all emotion, the pair embarks on a romance unlike other teenage relationships: No hand holding, no sloppy kissing behind the bike shed is permitted under her strict governance.

As many teenagers experience, family life is not easy for either of our young lovers. Oliver has his mother under infidelity surveillance whilst Jordana’s mother is critically ill. Rather than supporting each other, Oliver finds that he cannot share he worries as Jordana’s problem trumps his, so tries to play the part of the supportive boyfriend. This comes crashing around him as teenage selfishness and fear step in and he fails to make it to the hospital when he is most needed. From this point Oliver’s two goals are to prevent his parents separation (however unorthodox his methods) and rekindle his romance with Jordana. I wouldn’t want to spoil it, so will say no more.

Overall the film is confidently produced for Ayoade’s first shot at movie production. There are some beautiful and desolate scenes which portray both the scene and emotion fantastically, and truly beautiful use of light and dark. The characters are connected to their landscape in the way I believe many teenagers do, exploring and affirming their presence in the world through small acts of violence (burning junk, throwing stuff and generally sitting around in their patch, or bath tub in this case). There are some great comedic moments throughout which lighten an otherwise dark narrative. The flick generally feels quite self-aware, and the characters are perhaps a little exaggerated in their weirdness, but this is a great watch and I personally look forward to seeing more from Ayoade in the near future.

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