Dir: Richard Ayoade
Starring: Craig Roberts, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Sally Hawkins, Yasmin Paige
Submarine is a coming of age story, set in an unspecified time in a nameless Welsh village. Our main character Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is a 15 year old boy, who narrates his story and often does so as if he were the star in his own film. His goals in life, to lose his virginity to the girl he likes Jordana (Yasmin Paige) and keep his parents together after his mother (Sally Hawkins) shows interest in the new age spiritual neighbour and also former flame Graham (Paddy Considine). Oliver goes through life with the expectations set forth in the art mediums he knows, and gets his advice from his peers at school. He has no real knowledge of the way things really work, and this film shows his progress from a naive boy to learning from his experiences. He doesn’t know who he truly is, and through out the course of this film slowly begins to discover that. The film keeps away from the typical clichés, which so often make films about teenagers forgettable and average.
Oliver’s parents are two quiet people, strange in their own way and basically have reached that point where life does not move for them anymore. His mother, to ignite some excitement in her life, welcomes Graham in and isn’t sure what to make of it. His father the socially awkward one also has no idea what to make of Graham and doesn’t particularly like this inclusion. Oliver has his suspicions that something might be going on, but he does not pay too much attention to it because he has his sights set on Jordana. She is not the most popular girl in school, or the girl who remains just out of arms reach, she’s middle ground, much like Oliver himself is. Their relationship begins when Oliver does something out of character to get her attention, and they begin spending time together. He slowly finds out that she isn’t overly warm to romantic gestures, and has a bit of a problem with starting fires. Jordana seems like the perfect fit for Oliver, and so begins their courtship. As their relationship progresses, it seems the one with his parents is getting worse. Unable to focus on both aspects of his life, and being scared of what Jordana herself has to face he begins an obsessive mission to keep his parents together. The film has this self awareness about it, that some how manages to work through out the different chapters we are presented (much like a book, which this was based on).
I loved the performances in this film, in particular that of Craig Roberts as Oliver. He fitted the role of the awkward outcast in high school, he understood what he was doing as an actor and with the material. He is in most of the film, whether it be visual or audio. He narrates the film with a natural tone, and it is something that I could easily imagine a teenage boy in his situation would say. In a way, the character was easy to relate to, most of us were the outcast in school at one time or another. His problems at home are all too common, and crushing on someone is another experience we’ve been through. I saw bits of myself in his character, it was a believable, quirky and very natural performance. Roberts shows here that he is an actor we all need to be keeping an eye on. Yasmin Paige was great as Jordana, she had the right look and attitude for this character. It is easy to see why Oliver was drawn to her, and the two had some great chemistry together, the tension in the scenes were just perfect for a romance of two people their age. I don’t think I even really need to say that Paddy Considine was fantastic in his supporting role as Graham, with his amazing mullet. The role was something that a lesser actor might have over played, but he hit those notes perfectly and he was always a joy to watch. Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins were great as the parents, they cleverly portrayed this suffering marriage, and even though it wasn’t stated, Taylor hinted that his character was depressed. The central cast all made a great fit, no one seemed out of place or gave any less than a top notch performance.
Writer/Director Richard Ayoade did a great job with the film, I am mostly unfamiliar with his previous work but I know will definitely be keeping my eyes open. I also now have a great need to want to read the book written by Joe Dunthorne and see how this adaptation compares. I think Submarine will be a film that will stay with particular viewers, and become a treasured favourite in years to come. The character of Oliver Tate and his story here are easy to get invested with and I personally found myself reflecting on things that happened to me at his age. Despite its quirky nature Submarine is presented from the point of view of a teenage boy, and it felt real. It wasn’t forced and it flowed just perfectly. The film was paced beautifully and the cinematography was outstanding, it was just a real joy to look at. Refreshing it was to see a film that did not spoon feed its audience a particular message and have a fake sense of ‘feel good’. In its own out there way, it was a clever and honest portrait of being that age.
The Australian DVD
Audio/Video: The video is a 16:9 widescreen presentation. It is a solid presentation, I was impressed with how nice and sharp the picture was. Audio is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1. this is a great audio track, its loud and clear.
* Audio commentary with director Richard Ayoade, author of the original novel Joe Dunthorne, and Director of Photography Erik Wilson
* Cast and Crew Q & A
* Ben Stiller message
* Deleted scenes
* Extended scenes
The extra features here are fantastic, a really great package! The commentary is really insightful, and one of the best I have heard for sometime. This is definitely worth while, with the director and author on board you can’t go wrong. The cast and crew Q&A is great, another worth while feature, it certainly adds to the experience of the film, having that little bit extra. The message of Ben Stiller is worth a watch but not really needed. The delete and extended scenes are interesting, and while it is obvious why they weren’t included they are still worth watching.
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.
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