Not easy being teen
SUBMARINE Director: Richard Ayoade ( feature debut) Stars: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine
What seems so shallow can be so deep
A SUBLIME coming-of-age comedy based on the novel by Joe Dunthorne, Submarine takes us into the murky mind of its unreliable teenage narrator.
It is not that 15-year-old Oliver Tate ( Craig Roberts) is not to be trusted, it’s just the tiny periscope through which he peers at the world around him is slightly out of focus.
This is the universal truth of what it is like to be a teenager. You make a lot of mistakes. You lie a little to cover your tracks. You think a lot about what you should do next.
It is a weird and mystical cycle. Should it ever end, you just might find you’ve become a fully-fledged adult. Worse things could happen. In a coastal town in Wales in the mid1980s, about the worst thing that could happen to Oliver is rejection by his schoolyard crush, Jordana Bevan ( Yasmin Paige). To Oliver’s never-ending relief, this spiky, moody young woman allows him to become her boyfriend – kind of.
To Oliver’s never-ending dismay, every minute with Jordana is a test. If his nerves aren’t already shot, Oliver must also process the distinct possibility his parents’ marriage is falling apart.
The first sign is the dimmer switch in their bedroom is no longer in regular use. Now Oliver’s mum ( Sally Hawkins) is openly fawning over an old flame ( Paddy Considine) who has moved in down the street. Oliver’s dad ( Noah Taylor) – just like his son – is too lost in his own thoughts to figure out what to do.
While this is undoubtedly familiar territory to be covered, there is a freshness of perspective that is a joy to behold.
First-time writer-director Richard Ayoade ( best known in Australia as Moss on TV’s The IT Crowd) achieves a perfect balance between the bizarre and the bittersweet that is utterly irresistible throughout.
A strange yet totally accessible comic sensibility fused by a brilliant script to a brace of pitch-perfect performances seals the whole deal.
The overall effect? Every dumb thing you did ( or might yet do) as a youth will come rushing at you in all its awkward glory.
It’s the best film of its kind since Wes Anderson’s 1998 masterpiece Rushmore.
A true gem awaits you here.