“I find that the only way to get through life is to picture myself in an entirely disconnected reality.”
15 year old Welsh schoolboy Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) has an amazing amount of self esteem for a kid his age. He fantasizes about his own funeral and the tragic impact it would have on his community and Wales in general. In reality, Oliver is severely socially retarded and unpopular. His mother, Jill (Sally Hawkins) is a neurotic, frustrated housewife, and his father, Lloyd (Noah Taylor) a bipolar marine biologist. His two goals for the summer are to lose his virginity (while it is still illegal) and save his parents’ marriage from reintroduction of one of his mum’s former flames, Graham (Paddy Considine), a lecherous, self-help scam artist. Somehow, against his best efforts to sabotage the courtship, he meets and falls for fellow quirky class mate, Jordana (Yasmin Paige). She quickly takes control and leads him on his coming of age summer tour.
Submarine is your classic, quirky indie. Adapted from Joe Dunthorne’s autobiographical novel, director Richard Ayoade’s debut feature works hard to remove itself from its literary roots. Ayoade fills the feature with visible quirks, still and moving image montages, visualizations of thoughts and dreams, chapter cards, Dutch angles, and traveling shots. This movie screams visually, “I am an Indie!” So much so it detracts from the simple elegance of the source material.
For example, there is an opening letter to stateside audiences:
“My Dear Americans,
The film you are about to see is a biopic of my life. The events take place (not so long ago) in a proud land called Wales. Wales in next to England, a country you pretend to treat as an equal. My homeland has produced Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Jones and some other people. You have not invaded my country and for this I thank you.
Submarine is an important film. Watch it with respect.
Fond regards from you protagonist,
This perfectly covers the humor in this movie. Not really laugh-out-loud funny, but amusing and somewhat obnoxious. This is a film you will smile through whilst occasionally sneaking a look at your watch, hoping none of the pretentious art Nazis surrounding you notice. OK, I admit I am not surrounded by pretentious art Nazis at home, but that would make reviewing films more fun.
Anchor Bay’s 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC-encoded transfer runs an average of 31Mbps in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The colors are a bit muted, but this is on purpose; blues and reds pop. The blacks are stable and the shadows detailed.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is a bit of a disappointment. Surround immersion is limited to environmental ambience. The dialog is sharp, but the regional dialect may force the use of subtitles at times. This is a primary front mixed soundtrack. The balance between dialog and music/SFX is fair.
Extras are presented in standard definition with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and optional English subtitles.
- The Making of Submarine (SD, 11 min) – Brief behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew interviews and on-set footage. Your standard EPK with little useful information or production facts.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (SD, 13 min) – Nine deleted or extended scenes the majority of which are an in-depth and amusing look into Graham’s seminars.
If you like eccentric and quirky British style humor, you will love Submarine. Personally I found the whole thing a bit over-precious and self aware. I will admit it is a refreshing version of a teen comedy, and Oliver’s observations held true to the teen experience. I think this is a fine debut for Richard Ayoade and look forward to his next movie.
“My mother is worried I have mental problems. I found a book about teenage paranoid delusions during a routine search of my parents’ bedroom.”