Submarine

26 Apr

Director: Richard Ayoade (2011)

Directorial debut’s are always an exciting affair, none the more so when they are the star/writer/director of some of your favourite comedy shows including, but not exclusive to: Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place, IT Crowd and Nathan Barley. On screen, Richard Ayoade most popular persona (Moss in IT Crowd) can only be likened to an awkwardly endearing geek whose fear of oranges, human interaction and the female species presents an intriguing juxtaposition when we learn that behind the camera, Ayoade has set his hand at creating a heartfelt, comedy drama based on the trials and tribulations of a young boy in love. With murmurings of Ayoade looking set to be the British Wes Anderson – dare I say a worthy comparison? – Submarine has forced the film world to embrace their inner geek (for something completely different…) in this beautifully cinematic and heart warming film presenting itself as a lomographic portrait of young love in the face of the harsh truths of adult life.

Based on a book of the same name by Joe Dunthrone, Submarine follows Oliver Tate (newcomer Craig Roberts)

, a young cinephile, bedroom adorned with pencil sketches of Woody Allen, whose love for all things gabardine and vintage and literary could stir the coolest of girl’s loins if only he wasn’t so strange. Yes I am aware he is only about 15 but you get my point. He is the boy next door, the slightly odd boy next door but an intriguing boy next door nonetheless. Oliver is the archetypal old soul, torn between his own concerns with the potential failings of his parent’s marriage and his attempts to fix it and his own feelings for Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige), his equally disillusioned but rather more street smart classmate.

Special mention has to be given to Oliver’s parents. Played by indie Brit-flick queen, Sally Hawkins and the relatively unknown Noah Taylor, Oliver’s ‘eccentricity’ is explained in a self satisfied nod after only a few minutes of screen time with these two. Between a depressed marine biologist father and a mother whose twin set and pearls provide a thin veil for her past (and alleged present?) indiscretions which are presented in the shape of ‘hippy-looking twonk’ and motivational psychic speaker Graham (Paddy Considine) whose reappearance as neighbour sparks his mother’s crystal, poor Oliver had no hope.

This story runs parallel alongside Oliver’s attempts to woo Jordana and her initial cruel hesitancy. Oliver never seems to be the child, from his turn of phrase to his duffel coat to his red silk seduction tactics, however it is his wide-eyed openness that reminds us he is indeed our young protagonist, separate from the childish back seat antics of the adults in his life. However, while Submarine is indeed hilarious, Ayoade’s script has some sincerely poignant and touching moments, particularly beneath the shell Jordana is able to create, not only before Oliver, but before her audience. Merging the comedic with the sad realisation that teenagers must enjoy the frivolities of love and their loins alongside the impending realities of the adult world, it is here we might see the echoes of Anderson. Only Ayoade’s vision is less kitsch and more analogue. In my hopeful eyes, Submarine sees the paving of the way for a fresh, stripped down offshoot of the British indie genre, embracing and epitomising the best of British whether it be our sense of humour or cynicism or even our landscapes, our actors, our writers or our musicians (see the awesomely suited original soundtrack by Alex Turner). Here’s to hoping…

* Eyes open for a cameo by Ben Stiller who ‘presented’ the film…

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