Friday, 27 January 2012

Josh: Film: Submarine

Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate in a promotional image
'Here's to us and a wonderful night of love-making.'
     Written and directed by E4's 'IT Crowd' star Richard Ayoade, with US comedian Ben Stiller as executive producer and specially recorded music by Artic Monkeys' lead Alex Turner, child stars Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige bring us; 'Submarine'. The coming-of-age romantic comedy set in Wales during the 80's is based on the 2008 novel by Joe Dunthorne,a virtually unknown poet and writer. With such a diverse multitude of persons behind it what can we expect?
     15 year-old Swansea schoolboy Oliver Tate is unpopular, shy and alienated by everyone. He can't hold down a hobby and falls in love with Jordana Bevan. To get back at her cheating boyfriend Jordana gets Oliver to meet her where she kisses him, takes photographs and makes him write a false diary entry. She leaves the evidence of their meeting in school to make her ex jealous but it sees Oliver beaten up for refusing to call Jordana a slut. On the way home from school she kisses him again and Oliver makes Jordana his girlfriend. Meanwhile at home; Oliver's parents Lloyd and Jill's sex life and relationship is falling apart. With Lloyd depressed working as marine biologist after a failed TV career Oliver assumes his mother is having an affair with her ex and new age guru Graham who lives next door.
     Oliver and Jordana's relationship then blossoms until Jordana reveals her mother has a potentially fatal brain tumour. Oliver considers poisoning Jordana's dog in order to stem her grief when her mother dies but the dog is hit by a train. By Christmas time Oliver meets Jordana's parents where her father breaks down and Oliver becomes unsettled in his and Jordana's relationship. Without competent social skills Oliver decides cutting off contact with Jordana will help her. However when Oliver follows his mother and Graham down to the beach at New Year he sees Jordana with a new boyfriend. In response to seeing to seeing his mother get into Graham's van Oliver vandalises the guru's home and finds out his mother did give Graham a hand-job but Oliver's parents begin to reconcile. In the meantime Oliver becomes suicidal about losing Jordana until he makes his point clear and sees her on the beach they spent their time on. The film ends with a hint that the couple have resumed their relationship together as they walk into the sea.

Oliver admits that he feels suicidal.
     For the first time in reviewing anything I'm finding it difficult to find any fault with this film. With no continuity errors, silly moments, bad direction or poor acting we're delivered instead something which is simply mesmerising. Oliver Tate is a remarkably clever character study who is easy to relate to ourselves and yet so vastly different. His characterisation is realistic and pure brilliance and Craig Robert's performance deserves all the praise that he receives for what he does here. Considering this is his first major project outside the BBC and children's television he doesn't make one mistake and instead portrays endless potential and superb acting qualities. To match we have his co-star Yasmin Paige who though is slightly more experienced in the film-world still isn't as well-known and yet, just like Roberts, should have her agent's phone ringing non-stop with job offers. Together their on-screen chemistry, which is potentially the most important thing about this film, is believable and heart-wrenching. I'm struggling to come to terms with the fact that two of my childhood favourites have bonded to expose unlimited potential and this film could be there spring-board to stardom in the film and television industry.      This film is stapled with the label of a comedy about a teenage boy desperate for sex. But that's incorrect. It isn't just comedic but it's a heart-warming sometimes tear-jerking exploration into the world of an ordinary teenage boy. With a perfect examination of recurring problems with the teenage generation this rom-com as it could be called is similar to that of an in-depth documentary. I'm proud of this film for also dealing with potentially difficult subjects such as adultery, suicide and depression which are complex and yet Submarine masters them and portrays them excellently. All of this heavy subject-matter needs to be carried by it's cast and predominantly it is that of Roberts and Paige who pull it off but couldn't be done without the rest. Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor and Paddy Considine are the unbreakable back bone to this film and are all on their best form.
'You'd be mad not to cast us!'
     Plot-wise the script for Submarine is witty and intelligent at the same time and is easily capable of capturing the imagination and attention of the audience. As a first-time viewer of the film I only paused it when necessary because frankly the story is one of those that you can go around and delay knowing what's going to happen next. Now, with excellent cinematography and memorable imagery this film is bright and colourful with picturesque scenery and touching setting. A vacant effort sees a successful homage to South Wales tipped off with nostalgic uses of the Polaroid and the type writer. Both the score and musical content for Submarine is colourful and loud and helps construct the sheer vibrancy of the film.
     All in all, Submarine is a powerfully moving picturesque romp with an intelligent script and award-winning material acting especially from it's inexperienced teenage leads. With moments that are innocent and hilarious to moments that are courageously mature in content this has got to be one of my new favourites. An excellent piece of what the British film industry are able to achieve. Though I'm still struggling to understand Ben Stiller's involvement as according to his message on the extras he didn't do anything to contribute whatsoever, he didn't even bother to fly over to Cardiff to watch filming. Nevertheless, a must-watch.

Thanks, Josh.

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