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SUBMARINE (director/writer: Richard Ayoade; screenwriter: based on the novel by Joe Dunthorne; cinematographer: Erik Alexander Wilson; editors: Nick Fenton/Chris Dickens; music: Andrew Hewitt, with songs by Alex Turner; cast: Craig Roberts (Oliver Tate), Yasmin Paige (Jordana Bevan), Sally Hawkins (Jill Tate), Paddy Considine (Graham Purvis), Noah Taylor (Lloyd Tate), Darren Evans (Chips), Lily McCann (Zoe), Steffan Rhodri(Mr. Davey), Osian Cai Dulais(Mark); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Mark Herbert/Andy Stebbing/Mary Burke; the Weinstein Company; 2010)

“It’s an intriguing low-key film that makes you think Holden Caulfield.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A refreshingly playful, melancholy, droll-humored and quirky coming-of-age film written and directed by the Brit Richard Ayoade, in his auspicious directorial debut. It’s basedon the 2008 novel by Joe Dunthorne.

Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is a flaky nerd daydreaming fifteen-year-old high school student in Wales, who lives in a modestly comfortable private house, that features a wonderful scenic view, with his supportive parents whom he thinks are undergoing a rough period in their marriage. The lad makes it his mission to save the marriage of his legal department office worker mom (Sally Hawkins) and his brilliant but socially awkward marine biologist college lecturer father (Noah Taylor). The snoopy lad bases that the marriage is floundering on his observation that his parents’ bedroom dimmer switch has not been used in seven months, which indicates no sex. Also dad sits glumly watching TV at night and hardly talks, while mom has taken a fancy to weirdo self-help psychic guru Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine), an ex-boyfriend who has recently moved in next door, and once a week mom attends his New Age lectures.

At school the curious lad sets his sights on losing his virginity with pretty but self-professed pyromaniac classmate Jordana (Yasmin Paige), and equally odd and bright student whose healthy outside appearance doesn’t indicate how damaged she is on the inside. The gist of the film has the reserved Oliver use his rich imagination to score with the unemotional Jordana, overcome being bullied by the school bully and then try to win Jordana back when he acts like a dick and she rejects him for another classmate.

It’s an intriguing low-key film that makes you think Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The modest film is strangely appealing when it shows how the unpopular Oliver attracts the dominating Jordana only when she believes he caused grief to a fellow coed by bullying her and that he allows her to edit his private journals to fit her needs. Though there have been scores of coming-of-age films covering misfits and many with more depth, yet this one is an original that does wonders with the minor misfortunes tackled by our gawky romantic hero.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”