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Submarine: Dark Coming of Age Comedy

  • Craig RobertsNoah Taylor...
  • ComedyDrama
  • Out now
  • Richard Ayoade
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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Submarine: Dark Coming of Age Comedy

(Roberts) life is not going well. He gets bullied at school and his parents’
marriage is breaking up due to the re-appearance of his mother’s ex-boyfriend and his father’s depression.
He plans to get Jordana (Paige) to date him as a way of increasing his social
capital at school. Submarine traces the parallels between Oliver’s
relationship with Jordana and his parents’ relationship; all told from Oliver’s
point of view.

it’s Oliver’s story, we get to know him much more than we get to know Jordana,
but at the same time; what the viewer knows about Jordana is
exactly what Oliver knows about her. He has an image in his head of the
perfect girlfriend that he’s projected onto her. As a result, she comes across
at first as a series of quirks until they break up and then Oliver can no longer
project his fantasies onto her.

characters are fabulous and this is only amplified by the set design. You find
yourself staring at the posters on the walls, at the record sleeves and the
books around the characters; trying to find out more about these people. And
these details tell a lot. For example, at one point, Oliver has a Woody Allen
print on his wall. He also listens to Serge Gainsbourg and reads Shakespeare,
Nietzsche and most tellingly, Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Jordana
has a pair of Lolita glasses.

film is just so cohesive; everything fits together perfectly. The editing style could come off as showy for the sake of it in another film; but here it really adds to
the story. The fade to blacks were frequently replaced by fade to reds or
blues depending on the character that the film was following at the time; red
for Jordana, blue for Oliver. In addition, the image was frequently frozen in
time with only the camera panning out. This usually happened during profound
moments in Oliver’s life, allowing him to brood on the moment via voice-over.

scene where Oliver offers Jordana some of his favourite books so they can
cultivate common interests is highly reminiscent of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, when Alvy tries to ‘educate’
Annie by making her more like him. In fact the whole film is rather reminiscent
of Annie Hall. Oliver is cut from the same cloth as Woody Allen’s
neurotic, antisocial persona. He lives in a fantasy world guided by his notions
of what makes a perfect boyfriend and a happy family. He’s rather self-absorbed
in a way and yet his actions come across as reactions to his fears; fear of the
bullying at school getting worse and fear of his family falling apart due to
his mother’s possible affair.

is a fantastic film with an even better soundtrack, courtesy of Arctic Monkeys’
frontman Alex Turner. It brings to mind classics such as Annie Hall and The Catcher in
the Rye
while never coming across as an uninspired carbon-copy of these films. Submarine holds its weight as a great film in its own
right with a great British cast.   

Like This? Try

Annie Hall, Thumbsucker, The Squid and the Whale

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Based on a novel by Joe Dunthorne, Submarine was produced by Ben Stiller.

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