Plot: In a small, rural Welsh town by the sea, a precocious teenage boy attempts to balance his parents’ marital problems with his new love.
My thoughts: Teenage angst is a theme covered by many and conquered by none within the cinematic landscape of the 21st century. Modern teenage “romances” exist only as pixelated words darting between computers and phones and never as emotional connections between human beings, their brief lives just a fleeting memory to the tortured souls of the two in question. So when a modern film comes forth, fronting a hauntingly real take on life co-existing with romance, many would usually run a mile. This is why Submarine is so unique and un-flinching in its presentation, it was made not to dictate but to reminisce, to inspire, to harness belief.
As previously said, this is not a romance film, nor is it a love story, it’s a charming tale of a young boy’s brush with its radiant thorns and the repercussions it has within his mentally aged mind. A charming tale brought to life by former sitcom-star Richard Ayoade, an unexpected triumph both on paper and behind the camera. His light-yet-real approach to Joe Dunthorne’s novel is simply majestic to watch, his artful touches shining through the lens and his playful British humour echoing through the words.
It is both the fantastic performances and Dunthorne’s sweet, sincere characters that the film rests upon, like an unmovable block of unbroken laughter, dramatically and comedically they are perfect. Craig Roberts’ portrayal of the odd and pretentious teen Oliver Tate will surely never melt the hearts of the audience (his creepy involvement with his parents’ relationship giving him eerie edge) but will capture their thoughts in a state of nostalgia and inspiration. His heartfelt voice-overs fill the picture with truth and his exaggerated weirdness is a sign of humanity and in-difference among the many, highlighting his alienation and truly bringing him into the centre of the entire story, allowing him to never be over-taken by Sally Hawkins’ emotionally forgiving mother or Paddy Considine’s deluded dancer.
There are no heroes within the piece, but a horde of under-appreciated and rarely recognised talent that fit so beautifully together like an artfully complacent jigsaw. Dunthorne’s material is so firmly polished and his characters so lovably believable and Ayoade’s distinct, artistic style (although owing to the likes of Mike Nichols and Woody Allen, as well as the French new-wave scene) is a giant leap into cinematic originality. He truly has created something wonderful.
Submarine is a unique and telling tale of teenage life, possibly the most truthful ever filmed, and Ayoade’s fitting involvement allows it to be carefully broadcast into the minds of the many, un-spoilt and emotionally aware in its presentation. It’s appeal will spread from similarly precocious teenagers to nostalgic seniors thanks to the not-to-distant-past setting, yanking away the technological nightmares that lay within modern romance and leaving behind the bare-bones of true life with love.
In short, it’s a triumphantly humorous and truthful take on young life with artful touches and is the best, most honest British film for a long, long time.