I finally watched this movie. Took too damned long to do it. I love Richard Ayoade. If you have not seen The Mighty Boosh or The IT Crowd, you should. There are other shows that he has been in, but those two seem to be the big one’s people love referencing. There easier to get into I guess. Anyway, brilliant man. When this was released I was dying to see it and never got around to it.
So, Submarine is a movie about a russian sub commander who decides to go rogue. Actually, that’s The Hunt for Red October. Submarine really has nothing to do with submarines. Sorry to disappoint all of you Run Silent Run Deep fans. It’s set in a non-disclosed time period (though you immediately want to place it in the 80’s/early 90s). The film is a coming of age story and follows a boy, Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) as he deals with climbing the social ropes in school, attempting to be the best boyfriend in the world, and help keep his parents together by rekindling their romance.
The movie is a dramedy I suppose. For me it followed that fine line between being just a comedy or just a drama with some funny bits. It was a nice balance of both. The comedy aspect however is up to the individual. You have to like the style used and there are a number of cultural references that may easily missed. Still, it is incredibly funny and fascinating to watch.
The film is very much in a similar style to Noah Baumach or Wes Anderson. I mention those two simply because those two directors are probably the first most are going to compare this two. I mean Submarine has a lot of similarities to Rushmore, but I don’t know how much Ayoade was actually trying to do that. I mean, this film is drawing it’s source material from a novel. Stylistically there’s a look of French New Wave to be seen, which is another similarity between directors. I wouldn’t say that he’s attempting to mimic Anderson, rather they clearly have similar tastes and influences. There are plenty of differences.
I do like how vague the film is on its setting. There is no clear time period given. There are some things that make the film seem like it could be set right now, but a lot of the film feels more like it’s from the 80s. That has more to do with the lack of certain items. You don’t see characters on cell phones or using computers and the TV’s are older looking. For the most part though, there really aren’t a lot of pop culture references which is nice. The lack of direct references I think let’s you focus on the film’s content more.
Ayoade does a good job at capturing the “truth” of coming fo age. Granted, Oliver is a bit weird (well maybe a lot weird), but you do really get a good sense of how some kids that age treat each other. Relationship-wise, there’s quite a bit of truth there, especially in the awkwardness of it all. Ayoade also does a good job at capturing how a teen is trying to handle is parents potentially splitting up and in addition to teens coping with death or bullying. There’s really a lot covered, though certain issues get focused on a good deal more than others.
I’m a fan of coming of age films. This is was a good one. Hope to see more of Ayoade soon (not just acting). I think he did a solid job with this as his directorial début.
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