Submarine film debut by Richard Ayoade

Submarine film review by Martyn Conterio

Award-winning comedian and writer Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd) makes his feature film debut with a quirky adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s 2008 novel.

Submarine stars Craig Roberts as precocious school boy Oliver Tate who falls in love with a pyromaniac flirt named Jordana (Yasmin Paige) one day at school. As love blossoms in the hearts of the ill-matched pair, Oliver’s parents’ marriage hits a rocky patch. A mystic guru (Paddy Considine) who spouts new age aphorisms has moved in next door and Oliver’s mum (Sally Hawkins) is rather taken with him because her husband is a manic depressive professor obsessed with fish. Small town oddness reigns in Ayoade’s movie but it never quite gels together.

Coming across as Wes Anderson-lite it’s still a rather funny and tender story making some great moves. If only it toned down the quirk and music video surrealism, which feel like empty gestures, Submarine would have been something really special.

Ayoade’s fine comedic touch delivers plenty of poignant and hilarious moments and where else would you find references to FrançoisTruffaut’s The 400 Blows and the horror film Don’t Look Now in the same scene?

The young cast are great but Oliver’s Max Fischer-like vibe fails somewhat. He’s annoying, weird and at one moment even a character announces he displays serial killer tendencies. But one gets the impression we’re meant to find him utterly endearing.

Submarine succeeds in its quieter, less showy, moments where a simple shot, stolen glance or line of dialogue says more than the flashy fantasies sequences, rapid editing and pop promo chic. Some rather drippy music numbers from The Arctic Monkeys main man Alex Turner feel a bit forced, too.

There’s no doubt some will fall for this movie’s charms and label it the British film of the year. Sadly, it isn’t, but it could have been.

Submarine will be out on DVD, Blu Ray and Est on August 1st.

Submarine film review by Martyn Conterio

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