“Submarine” tells the story of a fifteen-year-old named Oliver Tate. He is an unusually smart, serious, and self aware outsider who is awkwardly trying to navigate his teen years. Oliver has two big ambitions. His first one is to lose his virginity before his next birthday, his time comes when he meets a girl who actually takes some notice of him. Though he does mange to win over feisty rebel Jordana (Yasmin Paige), a girl who is a little more confident and popular than he is, there is a small problem. His happiness is interrupted when his parents have hit a very tough patch in their marriage. His mom (Sally Hawkins) is unsatisfied, and his father (Noah Taylor) is starting to slide back into depression. It doesn’t help when his moms ex-boyfriend (Paddy Considine) comes back into her life. So Oliver puts his relationship on hold to try to save his parents.
“Submarine” is a quirky coming of age story. Richard Aoyade wrote and directed the movie, it is his first feature film as well. While watching the movie, it felt like a Wes Anderson movie. It had that same quirky feel and the use of title cards and narration. It reminded me a lot of Rushmore. It seemed like a more realistic Rushmore. The kid in this even reminded me a little of Max Fisher. Richard Aoyade seems like he could be the next Wes Anderson, he is already on that same level. I don’t know how he managed to do it. That is remarkable considering this is his first movie.
The directing is handled almost perfectly. I just didn’t like how the movie put in title cards. That works in movies, it just wasn’t needed in this one. The script is wonderfully written. The slow paced dialogue between characters is never dull at any point but rather engages the audience to truly understand what is trying to be said. The depiction of Oliver Tate’s mind is so incredible, that like Juno, and Napoleon Dynamite, he shall have his name on the Indie star walk of fame. Plus, I have grand appreciation for writers that are able to make comedy and tragedy appear indifferent on the same page, and Richard Ayoade does this very well.
The movie was able to convey many messages, it had a great deal of symbolism to it. Oliver’s journey takes us all in a journey of understanding the basic principles in life. Oliver is not perfect, he is no hero. He is a real person who is learning these lessons the hard way. The cinematography and photography in this movie are amazing. It is real eye candy. The color used in every scene is amazing, and the way Richard Ayoade incorporates a retro style to a modern movie is great. Another thing that was great was the soundtrack. The Soundtrack goes well a long with the movie and sounds fantastic. It is one of the best soundtracks in a movie this year. There is a handful of original songs written and performed by Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. All of them are great to listen too.
The acting was a major highlight. Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige do terrific work as Oliver and Jordana. I was surprised, I went in not expecting such great performances from the kids. They have a decade of acting work behind them but I’ve never heard of them before. There’s no excuse for that anymore. Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor play Oliver’s parents. They don’t get to really show off their best acting skills, but they are still great. They settle into the roles nicely. Every single character has outlandish hair, strange personality quirks, odd jobs or hobbies. These things could have easily resulted in one big giant mess, but the actors play their roles completely straight. In Submarine, you truly ache through the awkward moments, even as you’re laughing.
There have been many coming of age indie movies, and just movies for that matter. They are all concerned in being different, that they are at risk of all being the same. Sometimes it doesn’t come off well, and sometimes it quirkiness comes across very naturally and has an artistic merit to it. Submarine is the latter. This movie was so close to getting my perfect rating. The movie is not completely perfect, and there are so many fantastic things that you tend not to notice any of the flaws. Especially on the first viewing. Still, there was something missing that stopped this movie from being better than it is. This might not be for everyone, but everyone should give this one a chance.