Tuesday, 15 March 2011


I've got to say I'm very pleased with how 2011 is turning out. After 2010 parped out just four films that I would allow onto my DVD shelf, this year has already presented four that I'm itching to see again, and it's only 74 days old. So well done 2011 and well done Richard Ayoade for directing the sublime, subdued and substantially good Submarine.
With a cast of hyper-real characters, a handful of fantasy scenes and a script full of lines that literally nobody would ever say in real life ("Once, I ripped my vest off in front of a woman... it produced a very atavistic response"), Submarine is destined to be labelled with the nauseating "offbeat" and "quirky" tags that often get used to describe something that isn't Transformers 3, even though that film will almost certainly feature all of the above. Apart from the "atavistic" bit, obviously.

Ayoade marshalls all the elements of his film with such a deft hand it's hard to believe that it's his first feature, but with several ingenious music videos to his name already, he's clearly set to join Edgar Wright and Garth Jennings as a force to be reckoned with in the field of visionary British directors. His own script, adapted from Joe Dunthorne's novel, is full of pathos, romance and pant-pissing LOLs, Erik Wilson's cinematography is heartbreakingly gorgeous and Alex Turner's original songs are things of aching beauty.

Alex Turner: 'Piledriver Waltz'

But it's the cast that effortlessly wins you over: it's impossible to take your eyes off Craig Roberts as the deadpan hero Oliver Tate; if he doesn't become the icon of a generation of teenage boys then there's something wrong with the world. Yasmin Paige is exactly as alluring, aloof and untouchable as teenage girls are to teenage boys and Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins and The Mighty Considine are note-perfect as the supporting cast of hopelessly tragic yet heart-warmingly human characters.
Struggling to find something wrong with it in order to not come across like a fawning berk, all I can come up with is that Submarine drags ever so slightly in the final act. Fortunately there are enough shots of Paddy Considine's tremungous hair to kep you entertained and you can be sure that zingers like "Feel my piss" and "You've got to shut this shit down" are lurking just under the surface, waiting to remind you that British film in 2011 is about so much more than stammering royalty.


  1. It was amazing and everything, don't get me wring, but was it just me or was Paddy Considine basically just doing a Rex Kwan Do from Napoleon Dynamite variant?

  2. Thanks for the review. You have whetted my apetite for Submarine.

    Atavistic is the word of the week to describe life for many unlucky people in Japan.

  3. Just saw this on DVD and loved it. Especially loved the overly dramatic musical stings for the chapter dividers.

  4. This movie was at periscope depth, like watching an episode of a soap opera that you do not follow. It has since dived to the bottom without trace. Submarine is about submarines the same way 'Chariots of Fire' (1981) is about Roman transport. Give it a miss.

  5. Not entirely sure why you use the term "lovely" to describe this. You don't go much into the content of the film in your review and the term "lovely" could mislead people into thinking that the main character is something other than a horribly obnoxious little s**t.

    Of course, this is entirely intentional and part of what makes this film so funny. On the one hand, I've seen a review on IMDB where someone was very annoyed that the "hero" of this story tries to justify bullying, seemingly failing to notice that we are supposed to laugh at the protagonist's expense when the victim tells him to "f__ off and die". More worrying has been a number of reviewers (including Roger Ebert) who seem to mistakenly view the twisted relationships in the movie (particularly the central couple) as "sweet".

    The protagonist is not lovely. His constant torment during the film is meant to elicit more laughter than sympathy (though the film also surrounds the protagonist with characters who are even more horrible than him, just so we don't find him entirely unrelateable).

    Submarine was an excellent black comedy and I absolutely loved it. It just wasn't "lovely" and, to be frank, I'd say that's a point in its favour.