It is difficult to think of a better way to start a directorial career other than “Submarine”, especially when you think it comes from the mind of someone that many will know best from Channel 4’s The IT Crowd and his character Moss. However “Submarine” is much more than something new from an unknown face, the critics have not already given it the superlatives it deserves then the audiences surely will. This coming-of-age story set in Wales ticks all the boxes that will win fans over. Taken from Joe Dunthorne’s comic novel we see the film through Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) eyes and his unusual take on the world around him. Although the teenage problems he faces, such as his virginity, the declining relationship of his parents and his new found love interest Jordana (Yasmin Paige) may seem unremarkable and common place in a teenage orientated films, Oliver brings a surreal take on events and many laugh-out-loud moments, all of which set the film apart.
The fifteen-year-old Oliver’s self-monologue and his self-conscious belief that his life is the fictional work of a tormented director gives the film some of its best moments. “I’ve tried smoking a pipe,” he muses, “flipping coins - listening exclusively to French crooners” – cut to a Serge Gainsbourg LP sleeve – “I’ve even had a hat phase”. The inner working of Oliver’s troubled antics is played out over the events of his mother’s (Sally Hawkins) possible romance with the next door neighbour Graham (Paddy Considine), who is a crazy, mullet-styled self-help guru…What else would you expect in Wales in the 1980’s? Oliver of course then takes it upon himself to hold his parents’ marriage together, and protect his melancholic dad (Noah Taylor), while trying to negotiate the working of a first love.
Ayoade’s style although refreshing is also the acknowledgment of many credited influences (Wes Anderson) and at times is both a revelation and portrays the experience of meeting an old friend. The most obvious example of this is the collaboration of Ayoade and Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner who wrote and sang the five-piece soundtrack. Their joint venture is a virtue to their long standing friendship and leaves some scenes reminiscent of liner notes from possible Arctic Monkeys album artwork. For those that relish the film as many have, the chance to turn to Turner’s songs will offer solace in the rest between cinema and DVD release.