Submarine is about a teenage boy growing up and learning to deal with keeping a girlfriend and also keeping his parents marriage together.
Fifteen year old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is trying to win the attention of a girl he has a crush on named Jordana (Yasmin Paige). He joins in bullying a girl thinking it will get him closer to Jordana, and later the two meet up beneath the train tracks and Jordana takes pictures of them kissing to get back at her ex. The plan backfires for Oliver and he gets beaten up, but Jordana and he begin dating afterward. In addition to his own sex life, Oliver is concerned with the sex life of his parents (Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) and fears that a new neighbor (Paddy Considine), a new age guru who happens to be an old boyfriend of Oliver’s mother, will cause a rift between his mother and father.
Submarine is a film that I wanted to love before knowing much about it. I’m a sucker for indie movies and I’m a sucker for coming-of-age stories and I thought the combination of the two with a healthy dose of UK style and wit would make this a winner. Unfortunately, while Submarine hits lots of high notes, I found myself bored more than entertained. That’s not to say that Submarine is a bad film, it’s not even close to bad, it’s just uninteresting. Or perhaps it’s just the type of film that has been made too many times to stay fresh.
Oliver is a fantastic character and I think Craig Roberts does a fantastic job carrying the movie. Where the movie began to lose me was in the supporting cast of characters. I never cared about Oliver’s parents and I couldn’t stand Jordana at all. When Jordana has trouble at home and her mother is ill, I didn’t care and I’m not sure where the disconnect was. I think in trying to be quirky, and funny, and different, the wrong aspects of the characters (excluding Oliver) were highlighted. Although I did finally get a chance to see Paddy Considine in front of the camera, instead of behind from Tyrannosaur. I related to Oliver, being a nerdy kid that wants to fit in and goes to see movies that other people don’t care about – don’t worry, I do care about The Passion of Joan of Arc. He has a big heart but he’s also a scared kid that doesn’t know how to handle things. I get that. The rest just felt disconnected to him in some way.
First time filmmaker Richard Ayoade does an admirable job bringing Submarine to life and had a less likable actor been cast as Oliver, the whole thing might have sunk (submarine pun intended). Even at 97 minutes, Submarine started to feel long about halfway through and I was kind of glad it ended. When the film started, I loved it but my enthusiasm slowly waned as time passed. After the credits began rolling I was happy that I took the time to see Submarine, but I wouldn’t want to see it again.
I give it 3 totally sweet airbrushed vans out of 5.