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Review: Submarine

PUBLISHED: 08:55 25 March 2011

Submarine

Submarine

Archant

Best known as Moss in The IT Crowd, Richard Ayoade makes an impressive directorial debut with this coming-of-age story set in Swansea.

Everybody has their own first great first love movie. Mine would be Gregory’s Girl, Bill Forsyth’s magical exploration of teen awkwardness set beneath giant empty Scottish summer skies.

The events of Submarine are crammed in beneath the dark rain laden clouds of the wintry Welsh coastal town.

I wouldn’t swap Gregory for Submarine, but anyone who has the pleasure of getting Submarine as the film of their adolescence is very lucky.

As you get older, you kind of rankle at the idea of another coming-of-age tale. At the beginning, as 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) starts to outline his world view and how he always sees his life in terms of a movie, it seems this has nothing to offer that hasn’t been done a thousand times before.

But within 15 minutes, it has disarmed you, charmed you into its world and, once there, you don’t want to leave. You know it is good film because, although it is nothing like your adolescence, it is somehow just like it.

Oliver is like an Adrian Mole who has allowed all his Catcher In the Rye fantasies free reign. His object of affection is Jordana (Yasmin Paige), an anti-romantic who prefers arson and industrial estates to flowers and country walks. the romance between his duffle coat and her hooded red Don’t Look Now jacket is hampered by Oliver’s need to try to save his parents marriage: his mother’s attentions have been diverted from his depressed marine biologist father by a dashing leather-clad spiritualist played by Paddy Considine.

The grown-ups are all very good, especially Noah Taylor as Oliver’s father, the former Open university lecturer Lloyd. But it is the kids who really shine.

Oliver’s permanently fearful expression reminds us that adolescence is mostly an horrendous time. This is not an exercise in cosy nostalgia – the title is a metaphor for depression.

First-time writer/director Ayode (Moss in the It Crowd) has done a marvellous job of adapting Joe Dunthorne’s novel. There is something a bit Wes Anderson about its quirky poignant humour and its visual confidence, though I’ll take this over the Scorsese of twee any time. For me, Submarine was like finally getting to see the film that everybody else sees when they watch Rushmore.

Submarine (15)

Director: Richard Ayode

With: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins and Paddy Considine

Length: 97 mins

****

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