Ten minutes into Submarine, I was already looking forward to watching it again. You could try to describe this film, ostensibly a coming-of-age tale set in Wales in the 1980’s, in terms of the precocious protagonist and precious designs of Rushmore, or maybe talk about how the French New Wave influences in the film make one think of Stolen Kisses, or possibly the underwater imagery and wry dialogue of The Graduate, or perhaps the morbid humor of Harold & Maude. Or maybe it is best to just let Submarine be Submarine: that is, an awesome film.
Richard Ayoade (writer, director) has adapted the novel by Joe Dunthorne about 15-year-old Oliver Tate so freshly and cinematically that I have trouble believing it wasn’t a film project from the beginning. (I have not read the novel and now feel like I have no need to.) I dare say this makes me wish Ayoade would give up his sitcom acting career, as funny as he is playing Moss on The I.T. Crowd.
As surreal as the film often gets, it captures the heartbreaking and hilarious details of a teen boy’s life, at least as I remember my own, which is really all the barometer I have. Craig Roberts, as Oliver Tate, is spot on. You could search for years and never find another teen actor who can deadpan a voiceover so perfectly. The supporting cast is likewise revelatory, especially Yasmin Paige, as Oliver’s love interest Jordana, Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor, as Oliver’s parents. Also to mention, Paddy Considine, who has a nigh impossible role — an absurd peddler of New Age hokum who hides an aura of utter sadness.
There is little else I would rather write about Submarine than this: go see it right now! And let me know when you’re going, because I’d like to come along. It will be a delight to watch again!