Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RPIFF: Submarine (2010)

I was very much looking forward to this one, Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd writing and directing a movie, it could only be a disastrous letdown. Or brilliant. Having already read the thoughts of a lot of my favourite bloggers on Submarine I was thinking I might be disappointed. Alex at Film Forager called it (and i paraphrase) "cute but too hip" and Bonjour Tristesse called it "a decent first effort." Whereas Fandango Groover gave it his Movie of the Month award in March and Blondoner in her own unique way called it a piece of brilliant, genius.

It is a cute film, it's incredibly easy to watch at the most basic level of enjoying film and yet has all kinds of extra added depth for those open to a bit more, laughs in abundance and a pretty standard genre storyline.

Craig Roberts is Oliver Tate, our lead and narrator for the duration. But he's not really our narrator, he's narrating his life, creating his own magic and attributing more importance to himself than is necessary. He's a real teenage boy in this instance. What he narrates is his first steps in to teenage love, the possible break up of his parents marriage and his attempts at espionage.

The movie is packed with strong performances all round, I particularly liked seeing Dave's Coaches Dave and Gwen from Gavin & Stacy appear, but then they would because this is a Welsh movie. On a serious note Paddy Considine is excellent in his comic turn as spiritualist nut case neighbour with a mullet Graham and Yasmin Paige as Oliver's love interest is sufficiently adorable, especially in her red coat. Sally Hawkins is her usual subtle self as Oliver's dissatisfied mother but I just can't help but think of her as super chav Samantha in Mike Leigh's All or Nothing no matter what role she takes so I may not be the best judge on this one.

Oliver's adventures are largely enjoyable and Ayoade clearly had a very strong vision for the film which he pulls off with flying colours. The movie looks great. Lots of really nice composition and his use of colour (none more obvious than the red coat) is impressive. The use of different film stock is another trick used to great effect. All of it tying nicely together to create the feeling that Ayoade knows exactly what he's doing.

There have been a lot of comparisons thrown around for this film; Rushmore, Juno, 500 Days of Summer to name a few but I just don't see them myself. Sure there are times when the construction of some scenes is reminiscent of Wes Anderson and it's about young love but I see no reason to compare it to those movies. At times it felt more like Amelie with the magical narration and the breaking of the fourth wall and the very obvious influence of the French New Wave is right there for everybody to see.

Overall it's a good piece of cinema, enjoyable but not brilliant, if it had been brilliant more of it would have stayed with me. This is just another quirky coming of age comic drama, notable for the fact that it has come from a clearly talented first time director and from England not America. It's a shame it wasn't a total disaster really but I guess not everything can be so black and white.

Blah me people.


  1. ekhem... I'm a woman...

  2. blogging. it's like the hare, you assume a sex. i shall try to remember that you are a lady for future referrals.

    very cool job by the way, how did you swing that one?

  3. I have been looking forward to this ever since I saw Ayoade's name attached, and heard great things. Going to miss it at MIFF, so i'll have to wait until it gets a release in Sydney. Nice work Toby!

  4. thanks andy, looks like 8th september in perth so i would assume a month before that in the rest of australia? :D

  5. Good one Toby, I think your feelings on this are closer to mine than most of the reviews I've read. I do think Considine was excellent in his role, but there really needed to be a lovable lead character to balance him out.

    All in all Ayoade showed just enough talent here to put himself on my radar but not enough to really make this a special or memorable film.

  6. blondoner - ammendment made :)

    bt - i see your point, perhaps i identify with oliver too much and it clouds my judgement?

  7. Hmmm This is one I am waiting for. As you know I have a pre release copy on its way to me (pesky PR company, where is it!!)

    I love Ayoade in The IT Corwd, and I am so fascinated by the fact that the nerdy dude with the funny voice has made a film.

    I can't wait to get my copy and give it a review!!

    Thanks for string Toby

  8. thanks ;) it took me two years of working for free - not an easy path I must admit! But definitely worth it!