Submarine, set in Wales during the 1980s, is a comedy drama featuring Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate, a 15-year-old who finds it difficult to mix with others and tries to disconnect himself from reality to get through the day, such as imagining what people would think about him after his death. He spends a lot of time on his own, but then he likes his own company, saying it gives him time to think. His parents say their house has brilliant scenery views, but he prefers to use them to spy on his new neighbours, Graham (Paddy Considine) and Kim-Lin (Gemma Chan), and we learn he knows when his parents have sex as he likes to spy on them.
Aside from all this, he fancies a girl in his class called Jordana (Yasmin Paige), but can’t work out how make contact with her. An opportunity arises when he finds himself with others bullying classmate Zoe (Lily McCann) in the forest. After Zoe changes schools, Jordana invites him to meet her under the railway bridge after school and their relationship begins in a way you’re not quite expecting. Later, she tells him she hates ‘romantic’ so he takes her to an industrial estate for “some quality one-on-one time”.
His mum, Jill (Sally Hawkins) is a neurotic who was told she wasn’t good enough to become an actress so now works for the council and his father, Lloyd (Noah Taylor), is a marine biologist and has been on anti-depressants ever since he was sacked as a presenter for The Open University.
Early on, Submarine, has some incredible visual touches, such as a moment when Oliver is indirectly getting to know Jordana by taking part in the bullying of Zoe, where everyone appears to be frozen in time – with Zoe falling backwards and her bag and it’s contents going flying, but when the girl moves her eyes you can see that it’s not just been shot with a single camera and frozen. It’s something that has to be seen, but is fantastically effective.
Frequently told through narration, another class moment comes when Oliver comments about he perceives his life to be so important, that he says he wishes he had a film crew following his every move. I won’t reveal what happens next.
There are some relatively big names in this film, but the best performances go to Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige as Oliver and Jordana. None of the rest really seem to push the boat out, or perhaps they were just told to keep it relatively low-key so as not to overshadow the two newcomers. Overall, Submarine *is* good, but it does feel like it gets a bit sluggish at times, generally with the storyline about the breakdown of Oliver’s parents’ marriage and where their new neighbours fit into all this.
Also, it comes with a DTS soundtrack but this is never used to any great extent.
This is just a review of the film itself, but special features on the DVD and Blu-ray are as follows:
- Audio Commentary with director Richard Ayoade, author of the original novel Joe Dunthorne and Director of Photography Erik Wilson
- Cast and Crew Q&As
- Alex Turner’s Piledriver Waltz Music Video
- Through The Prism with Graham T. Purvis
- Cast and Crew Interviews
- Ben Stiller Message
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Scenes
- Test Shoot
Running time: 97 minutes
Released: July 2011
Director: Richard Ayoade
Producers: Mary Burke, Mark Herbert and Andy Stebbing
Leslie Dixon, Ryan Kavanaugh and Scott Kroopf
Screenplay: Richard Ayoade (based on the novel by Joe Dunthorne)
Music: Andrew Hewitt
Oliver Tate: Craig Roberts
Jordana Bevan: Yasmin Paige
Lloyd Tate: Noah Taylor
Jill Tate: Sally Hawkins
Graham Purvis: Paddy Considine
Chips: Darren Evans
Mark Pritchard: Osian Cai Dulais
Zoe Preece: Lily McCann
Keiron: Otis Lloyd
Abby Smuts: Elinor Crawley
Mr. Davey: Steffan Rhodri
Kim-Lin: Gemma Chan
Jude Bevan: Melanie Walters
Brynn Bevan: Sion Tudor Owen
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.