Directed by Richard Ayoade (who also developed the screenplay from the source novel by Joe Dunthorne), Submarine shows a deftness and assuredness that will surprise anyone expecting a flawed feature debut from the man. It’s clear that Ayoade has learnt a hell of a lot in his years of writing, acting and directing TV work (and I suppose his directorial gig covering an Arctic Monkeys show could have helped in some way).
Submarine is all about young Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a bright young man who wants to get together with Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige) and is also busy trying to keep track of how happy his parents (played by Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) are. The fact that one of his mother’s old flames (played by Paddy Considine) has moved in to the house next door doesn’t help the situation any. Oliver puts himself in quite a range of roles – protector, bully, victim, perfect boyfriend, etc – but needs to find the real core of his character to realise what he wants and to move forward with his life, with or without his goals attained.
With great performances from all concerned, a wonderful script and some nice directorial touches from Ayoade, Submarine starts off as something passably enjoyable and turns into something quite wonderful. Oliver is a cine-literate Adrian Mole who needs no diary to focus his inner monologues and Craig Roberts is fantastic in the role. Yasmin Paige is more than equal to the task of portraying the young woman that Oliver falls for. Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins are both excellent as Oliver’s parents but it’s Paddy Considine, as a mystical self-help guru, who creates the most laughs and makes the biggest impression amongst the adult characters.
There’s a nice soundtrack accompanying things and some editing that, on more than one occasion, provides impressive and imaginative visuals that surprise as well as cause unexpected delight.
Ayoade nails everything pretty perfectly, providing audiences with something that crosses the work of Wes Anderson with a large helping of Grange Hill. In fact, the more I think about it, the less I can find fault with.
DIRECTOR: RICHARD AYOADE
STARS: CRAIG ROBERTS, YASMIN PAIGE, NOAH TAYLOR, SALLY HAWKINS, PADDY CONSIDINE
RUNTIME: 97 MINS APPROX