A comedy that doesn’t let principles stand in the way of progress.
Submarine (2010) is director Richard Ayoade‘s debut film based on the novel of the same name, written by Joe Dunthorne. The book and movie are about a fifteen-year-old boy named Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), who is in-between trying to help reignite the passion that, maybe, once existed between his complacent parents, and trying to lose his virginity to Jordana (Yasmine Paige), a non-romantic. Submarine is an intelligently dark, romantic comedy that sort of catches you off guard. Oliver’s immediate disclaimer at the very beginning of the film makes you aware that Submarine is an important film, so you should watch it with respect. The film kinda goes on in a careful narration just before the actual events in Oliver’s life present and serve as a buffer to the pending crisis that accompanies one event to another and deliciously so. Finally, a refreshing teenage drama–sans tits and sunglasses.
Oliver (Roberts) is having family troubles. He notes that he can tell when his parents were “intimate,” should the dial for the light in their bedroom change. Oliver can also say that his father (Noah Taylor) is depressed because he drank hot lemon water from the same mug–never washing it–and he would stare into nothing. His mother (Sally Hawkins) a neurotic, and is worried that he may have mental problems. When Oliver shared the news that he has a girlfriend, his mother was rather “relieved” (she thought he held interest otherwise), and his father complied cassette recordings of romantic music. In the incidence his relationship was on a downfall–the opposite side contained a mix of break up songs. Ah, the awkwardness of first love. Especially when the first love of your life is a moody depressive and absolute hater of any form of romanticism.
Oliver’s concerns for his parents aren’t the only things on his mind–it’s love. Jordana (Paige), the girl “whose only real flaw is her spontaneous bouts of eczema,” is a total non-romantic. Maybe Oliver adored the way she burned the hair from his legs–but his moody lover equally finds Oliver resistible–more than she truly lets on, and this is what is truly charming about their relationship. His relationship with Jordanna and the ongoing involvement in how he responds and relates to his crisis is what makes this an incredibly smart and enjoyable film.
It isn’t any wonder why Ben Stiller was instrumental in getting Submarine distributed in the United States–he even has a small on-screen television cameo in the film. It is an amusing in-depth look into the life of a 15-year male resorting to thoughtful methods in trying to keep his parents together and lose his virginity. It was a bit more involved than that; it was a culture of individuals still trying to find out who they were and what particular niche they each fit in.
Many coming of age films are always over complicated by increasingly annoying examples of peer pressure and hapless parenting where the parents are usually complete idiots who are so disassociated with what’s really going on in their children’s lives; so much so that it has created a culture of misinformation and bad examples of proper family representations on the big screen. Not that they all have to be “accurate” in some way; but it’s nice to watch a good, clean, and intelligent comedy that isn’t maddeningly heavy with profanity and nudes. Submarine is a fantastically compiled chapter of tactical happenstances.