Richard Ayoade is a British comic actor best known for his work in TV series such as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and, most prominently, as supernerd “Moss” in The IT Crowd. However, he has also a strong sideline in directing music videos for the likes of Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a path that culminated in his directorial debut, Submarine.
The story of Submarine is that of narrator Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a 15-year-old Welsh schoolboy with all the usual teenage problems. He does not have any close friends, has never had a girlfriend and to top it all off, his parents are having marital difficulties. His mother’s old flame, self-proclaimed New Age guru Graham T. Purvis (Paddy Considine, sporting a spectacular mullet) has moved in next door and sparks interest in his mother (Sally Hawkins) and little resistance from his passive father (a wonderfully laconic Noah Taylor).
Oliver’s world is thrown into chaos when he falls hard for the cynical Jordana (Yasmin Paige) and must deal with a combination of disbelief from his parents and pressure from his classmates. Not to mention trying to make sense of his own feelings and how to handle the complexities of relationships.
Plotwise, there is not much new here. This is a bog standard coming-of-age tale in many ways, but it is the details that elevate it. The performances are excellent across the board, with newcomers Roberts and Paige displaying terrifically measured choices, communicating more in the silences than they do with words. The adult characters are all quirky to the point of near-cartoonish and lend a sense of whimsy to a film that skirts some dark territory like infidelity and cancer.
But the real star of the piece is the surprisingly assured visual style of Ayoade. In the commentary track he name-drops references like Le Samourai and Taxi Driver which may not be the expected influences, but the measured compositions and occasional rapid-fire montages show an accomplished style in that tradition.
Submarine is a deft, clever and enoyable film. While it may be neither affecting nor laugh-out-loud funny enough to touch true greatness, it is a thoroughly entertaining movie and an extremely promising debut for Ayoade.
The Blu-Ray has plenty of extras on board, including the full video of Graham T. Purvis’ “Through The Prism” self-help video, but the most entertaining is a pair of film festival Q & A sessions. Richard Ayoade proves himself hilariously deadpan and these sessions are funnier than the movie itself.
- Cast and Crew Q & A
- Test Shoot
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Scenes
- Music Video
- “Through the Prism” with Graham T. Purvis
- Commentary with director Richard Ayoade, author Joe Dunthorne and Director of Photography Erik Wilson