Action / Comedy / Drama / Romance


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September 13, 2011 at 05:22 PM



Ben Stiller as Soap Opera Star
Gemma Chan as Kim-Lin
Sally Hawkins as Jill Tate
Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate
601.29 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 37 min
P/S 4 / 97

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Framescourer 7 / 10

Poignant, economical and distinctive British coming-of-romance

A wonderful debut feature from Richard Ayoade with two sensational principal performances out of nowhere making it happen. I loved the way this film wore itself lightly, with a surface wit and nouvelle-vague jump-cut skip to its step. At the same time deep - Submarine deep? - things are stirring, not least in the uncompromising but nicely pitched score by Andrew Hewitt.

Submarine is a film that borrows the spirit but not the meat of ideas from other films. Woody Allen's diaphanous urban romances are clearly a touchstone (Oliver has a sketch of Allen above his bed). Ayoade's sensibility extends the comedy without making the reprisal bittersweetness too heavy. Everything is similarly tempered, compassionate. I laughed at characters (Paddy Considine's new age numpty being the obvious target) but never with the scowl that attends Mike Leigh's sightline.

Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige have a decade of acting work behind them but I've never heard of them before. There's no excuse to be had any longer. Both of them are simply outstanding. Paige manages to be that ideal, semi-opaque teenage girl twisting between knowing the secrets of the world and a contradictory fragility. Roberts - the prima inter pares, it's his story - pulls off the dead-pan without simply being dead look (and also has a wonderful, heart-rending running style). Between them they manage a wonderful updating of the parochial romance of the movies of Bill Forsyth, like Local Hero and, of course, Gregory's Girl.

It's not without its shortcomings. It's a rather tightly wound film in places, with meaning in frames where perhaps it would benefit from being allowed to breathe. However it really is a four-star debut and deserves a warm reception. 7.5/10

Reviewed by dsjackson90 9 / 10

Ayoade makes one of the finest debuts in years.

There's nothing better than walking into a screen to see the debut film by a writer and director – one that you have only heard very little about – and walking away 90 minutes later feeling more moved, entertained and uplifted by a movie than you have been in years.

Perhaps cinema-goers in the mid 1990s had this experience upon seeing Wes Anderson's first film Bottle Rocket. And maybe even those who witnessed Spike Jonze's big screen debut, Being John Malkovich, only a few years later will understand it too. However, for those of you who, like me, were too young to witness the birth of these auteurs of independent cinema then you don't have to worry, because Richard Ayoade's film Submarine is almost as good as both of them put together.

It tells the story of Oliver Tate who is caught at the junction between childhood and adulthood as he struggles with his first feelings of love, desire, heartbreak and must choose what path he wishes to take that'll define who he is for the rest of his life.

Sure, it may sound somewhat similar to all the coming-of-age stories that have hit the cinema recently, but what makes Submarine so special is Richard Ayoade's ability to capture the essence of growing up; the joy, the optimism and the tenderness alongside all the angst, confusion and depression too. I defy anyone to not see themselves plastered up on that silver screen in the film's opening as Oliver fantasises about the adoration and attention he'd receive if he died.

The ups and downs of this British comedy are mainly due to Ayoade's wonderful screenplay and direction that are touching yet never slip into sentimentality - he often playfully pokes fun at it in many cases – but what also deserves credit are the poignant score by Arctic Monkey's singer Alex Turner, the cinematography that effortlessly shifts between comic framing and beautiful imagery and the note-perfect performances by the entire cast.

Craig Roberts plays Oliver Tate in a star-making performance that will surely see him become one of Britain's finest young actors in the next few years. His character is a complex, multifaceted one yet he is able to make it wholly believable. Similarly outstanding is Yasmin Page as his love interest Jordana. It's essential to the story that she is a mystery to Oliver for much of Submarine's opening half, only revealing the reasons why she is so rebellious, unromantic and mischievous in the final act, and Page brilliantly portrays this with a careful mix of enigma, seductiveness and humanity.

What also excels Ayoade's film from being just another British coming of age story is the stylishness of his direction. Presented in the fashion of a French New Wave film like Jules Et Jim or A Bout De Souffle he gives Submarine an aurora of quirkiness and creativity that you rarely find in British cinema. The "kitchen sink" is gone and has been replaced by jump cuts, inventive sound design and a somewhat disjointedness.

This style, moreover, helps to complement the personality of our aforementioned protagonist who sees the world in a unique way to everyone else.

So what lies in the future for British cinema? Some could argue that it's the big dramas like The King's Speech, others could argue that it's the low budget affairs like Monsters and many will say that it's spectacles like Harry Potter. However, on the evidence that Richard Ayoade presents here, Submarine might just be a glimpse of the great things to come.

Reviewed by tomgillespie2002 9 / 10

Introduction to a potentially massive talent

Whilst watching Richard Ayoade playing uber-nerd Moss in the hit-and- miss sitcom The IT Crowd, or playing TV producer and actor Dean Lerner in the criminally underrated Garth Merenghi's Darkplace, the last thing I pictured him doing was confidently directing a feature-length film. I don't mean to knock him, as I've always felt he was an extremely talented comedy performer and writer, and he brightens up whatever he appears in, no matter how crap the material. But here he has focused all his ambition, influences and talent into creating a truly memorable debut.

Tate (Craig Roberts), a strange, intelligent and unnervingly confident schoolboy who falls for an equally strange girl Jordana (Yasmin Paige). After an incident which sees Oliver reluctantly participate in a spot of casual bullying that causes a girl to fall into a muddy pond, Oliver and Jordana begin their unusual romance. All seems to be going well until Oliver suspects his mother Jill (Sally Hawkins) of having an affair with cheesy self-help guru Graham (Paddy Considine), who lives next door. His father Lloyd (Noah Taylor) is so passive and uncaring that he is practically a zombie, and so Oliver takes it upon himself to rescue his parent's broken marriage whilst holding his own fragile relationship together.

The film arrives amidst critical praise and festival word-of-mouth, and the promise of a real future talent in director Richard Ayoade. I'm pleased to announce that the film is every bit as good as I've heard. I had my doubts, concerned with the film's 'quirky indie comedy' tag that films are so lazily lumbered with these days. But while the film is quirky, indie and a comedy, it finds its influences lying elsewhere - from the greatest of all film movements, the French New Wave. From the start this is clear with the Godard-esque large lettering with strong colours for the opening credits and title cards. Everything about the film screams New Wave, from its stylistic boldness, self-awareness, and even the unconventionally handsome and turtle-neck-wearing leading man.

One of the main strengths of the film is it's awareness of slipping into cliche. The quirkiness and magic of the French New Wave have been copied and ripped-off so often that nowadays when it is used it can come across as pretentious. But Oliver's intelligence and amusing voice-over frequently touches on this. At the start of his relationship with Jordana, they spend their days on the beach and frequenting industrial wastelands, and Oliver comments that he will put these moments in his 'Super 8 memories', cue shots of the couple running and laughing on the beach, shot in that grainy, home-video look. He also fantasises that he is in a film, and that the film will end up with him searching for Jordana on a beach and how it will end in an arty-farty, pretentious manner aimed to encourage discussion among chin-strokers. It's a great little trick and you have to admire the film's refreshing self- assurance.

The film is also very, very funny, with Craig Roberts proving an extremely talented comedy performer, all pale-skinned, wide-eyed awkwardness, and a pronounced, high pitched voice that almost resembles many of Ayoade's TV characters. The humour is often similar in style to Wes Anderson's (dare I say it?) indie comedies, which are some of the best comedies, if not films, to come out in the last fifteen years. Most of the humour stems from Oliver's increasing desperation to lose his virginity to Jordana, especially in one scene where they find themselves home alone, only for Oliver to light candles around his bed, and lie open-legged on his side in a cheesy pose. Jordana, with her eyes closed waiting for the surprise, opens them and deadpans 'f****n' hell, you're a serial killer.'

A real gem, and a film that definitely introduces the potentially massive talent of director Richard Ayoade, star Craig Roberts, and Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, who performs the wonderful music. And also a rare opportunity to see some of the beautiful sights of Swansea, where I currently reside.

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