Endearing Brit blender
Comparisons to Rushmore are inevitable and legitimate; still, Submarine is much more than just a mediocre knockoff. With his directorial debut, Brit comedian Ayoade has drawn extensively from others – from The Graduate to Wes and Paul Thomas Anderson to Amélie – and it is in the way he blends all these influences to create a pastiche both refreshing and singularly British that his film shines.
The story follows Oliver, a quirky 15-year-old with a face like a young Mr. Bean, as he sets off to achieve two things: to commence his sex life and to reignite his parents’. The events that unfold, with Oliver discovering relationships and sex and his parents dabbling in adultery, all belong to familiar territory, but their treatment singles Submarine out from many other teen films. They are familiar incidents taken for what they are: banalities of immense significance to the mind of a teenager.
The film never loses credibility by resorting to gross-out tactics and political incorrectness to be funny like films a la Superbad, or by putting up a vacuous, pseudo-intellectual front like Juno. Instead, it remains charming through its genuinely witty, fast-flowing script, the excellent cast and the cinematography, which combines playful editing techniques with beautifully constructed shots.
Certainly, Ayoade could be faulted for playing it pretty safe, but in its modest scope, Submarine is an endearing and unpretentious debut that achieves everything it sets out to.
Submarine | Directed by Richard Ayoade (UK, USA 2010) with Craig Roberts, Paddy Considine, Sally Hawkins. Starts November 17