Another week, another Lovefilm rental. I’ve been a little lacks in my blog posts due to the new(ish) job, and after a long run of night shifts I was back on days (although still early evening finishes) and I finally had some time to squeeze in a flick and write about it: Richard Ayoade‘s ‘Submarine‘.
The background is as follows: the film captures a period in the life of 15 year old Oliver, who, at the time of the film, is facing such adolescent challenges as losing his virginity, dealing with unhappily married parents, and teenage depression in parochial South Wales. As a bright, yet slightly odd, young man, Oliver concocts various peculiar strategies to become the best boyfriend in the world and to keep his parents together; to much comedy effect!
I must admit I enjoyed this quirky little Brit-flick thoroughly.
The dry and complex humour was right up my street. The writing is charming and witty at every stage of the way and is hugely enhanced by the skilled performances and astute direction. Craig Roberts especially stands out as the lead – his voice over narration of particular note for creating such a warm and appealing tone to the film. There were plenty of instances in the film that had me laughing away and the humour made me feel uplifted after it’s conclusion.
The eighties setting was nice and nostalgic for me too. There was some lovely touches; little attentions to detail that gave me a good giggle as I recalled those times for myself. Duffle coats, tape recorders, VHS cassettes in those giant plastic boxes, bad mullets – all those childhood memories came flooding back. (I was younger than Oliver at the time of this film) The film expertly captured my imagination on that level; sending me all wistfully reminiscent and greatly enhancing my enjoyment.
It’s not just nostalgia for the eighties setting that sent me back though – the adolescent growing pains of the character left me reflecting upon my own teenage growing pains. I too felt the awkwardness, uncertainty, and emotional randomness of it all and so I connected with Oliver and understood those experiences so well realised on screen. Ayoade (and original novelist Joe Dunthorne) has succeeded in creating a wonderful world we can all associate with; everyone had to deal with nobheads at school, navigate our first romance, cope with embarrassing parents, and roll with the general emotional and physical changes we were experiencing.
This all made for some quite refreshing viewing. Submarine largely avoided all the cliches of Hollywood teenage fare. There was no saccharine, over-sentimental coming-of-age stuff. There was no angst-y tween-y stuff going on. There was not one scatological or Onanistic gross out joke or widly unrealistic party. While at times a bit quirky and surreal, Submarine remained mostly grounded in such a way that made it quite unique, accessible, and heartfelt. Let’s face it – these quirky occurrences are all too common in real life – it’s not so surreal we needed to massively suspend our disbelief. In fact, far from it, the idiosyncrasies of Oliver’s world made it all the more believable and authentic to me.
One interesting little tid-bit that attracted me to the film was the soundtrack; I was aware that Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys had written and performed it. Much of the soundtrack was pretty musically bare and low key; gently strummed and sung in the background in quite an unassuming manner. Musically simple; remaining acoustic, bits of lyrical content were more audible at times in the film and, while some consider Turner’s lyrics poetic, I found them to be cluttered, pretentious, and superfluous. Still; whenever Turner’s music was lightly in the background of the film it suited the atmosphere of the scenes suitably. I certainly think the soundtrack warrants further investigation independent to the film.
So, in conclusion, I’ll recommend this warm little Brit-flick as an interesting watch. Perhaps not for everyone with regards to it’s quirky humour and distinctive (odd) style, but I enjoyed it greatly and think it’s worth a go.