Monday, October 3, 2011

Home Video with Abe: Submarine

Directed by Richard Ayoade
Released June 3, 2011

Arriving on DVD this Tuesday is the spectacularly quirky and energetic comedy “Submarine,” which segments young Oliver Tate’s life into several chapters as he navigates the intricacies of his world. Oliver’s perspective is absolutely fascinating – he imagines his own shockingly well-attended funeral in the opening moments of the film, and frequently revisits situations as if a film crew was lensing them, describing, often aloud to other characters, how a specific scene would play out if his life were a movie. Both Oliver as a person and “Submarine” as a film are equally interesting, and this film is one delightful take on teenage angst.

One of the reasons “Submarine” succeeds so brilliantly is that it gives Oliver complete license to tell his own story, even introducing himself in a non-diegetic written opening title, begging Americans to watch and appreciate his important Welsh story. He quickly earns the attention he demands, as he describes his life at the moment and his situation, discussing the complex journey of trying to figure out what kind of person he is, citing having worn hats as a passé phase. Oliver’s idea of life is how it might be in a film, and even though it doesn’t tend to work out that way, it doesn’t mean that Oliver can’t imagine it as such before reality hits.

Oliver’s actions are very much defined by those around him. Early on in the film, he compromises his morals and becomes a bully to appeal to his longtime crush, Jordana Bevan. Jordana sticks out like a sore thumb in the grey background with her red coat, and her attitude is equally anti-conformist. When Oliver tries to be romantic, she outright calls him a serial killer, and she has him write down reasons that she should sleep with him when he invites her over to spend the evening together. While his unconventional romance with Jordana brews, Oliver also monitors his parents’ sex life and takes action to ensure that another man doesn’t steal away his mother.

Each member of the cast in “Submarine” is perfectly suited for their part. Craig Roberts is wide-eyed and appropriately subdued and awkward as Oliver. Yasmin Paige displays just the right amount of teen rebelliousness as Jordana. Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins play Oliver’s parents as flat, energy-less people, making Oliver’s need to create a fantasy world for himself all the more understandable, and Paddy Considine has a fun small role as Oliver’s mother’s guru suitor. This is a film where the ensemble is well-matched with a superb script by Richard Ayoade based on Joe Dunthorne’s 2008 novel, enhanced by excellent cinematography and photography that makes Oliver’s life all the more intensely watchable.


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