Film Review: “Submarine”

by Jason LeRoy on June 10, 2011

Yasmine Paige and Craig Roberts in SUBMARINE

starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmine Paige, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine

written by: Richard Ayoade (screenplay), Joe Dunthorne (novel)

directed by: Richard Ayoade

MPAA: Rated R for language and some sexual content.

Submarine is a smart, quirky, deadpan Welsh coming-of-age comedy about Oliver (Craig Roberts), a charmingly befuddled teen attempting to win the heart of surly she-bully Jordana (Yasmine Paige) and prevent his distant parents, Lloyd (Noah Taylor) and Jill (Sally Hawkins), from divorcing. His wooing of Jordana is stymied at first by her extreme coldness and abrasiveness, and then by her sudden warming over. His crusade to save his parents’ marriage is threatened by the arrival of Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine), a new age mystic buffoon who also happens to be one of his mother’s ex-boyfriends.

Oliver and his father both appear to be terrified of women, or at least the women in their lives. Lloyd tiptoes around Jill, who is visibly resentful of his weakness and depressed, barely-there manner. Oliver, perhaps taking a cue from his father, falls in love with a girl who seems to openly despise him. Jordana is cruel, stocky, occasionally violent, generally unlikable, and yet she becomes Oliver’s first love. His awed, frightened infatuation with her is genuinely puzzling; their connection only makes sense insofar as his masochism complements her sadism.

While the script, penned by actor/director Richard Ayoade (The Mighty Boosh), winks at its genre – “I’m not sure if I came of age, but I did feel older,” Oliver tells us – it is still very much that kind of film. What is it about coming-of-age stories that will always fascinate? Oliver at least makes for an unconventional protagonist, and his inexplicable affinity for Jordana is certainly far more interesting than watching a geek fall in love with a cheerleader.

The film has a keen grasp on the flailing, stifled humanity of its characters, with uniformly excellent performances from the cast. As Oliver fumbles with figuring out who he is, both to himself and others, the film celebrates the value of finding a like-minded person when you feel hopelessly strange. It is a love song to the invaluable experience of weirdo bonding.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Casey June 13, 2011 at 7:18 am

Nice! I hadn’t heard of this movie, but now I want to see it. 🙂


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