Ayoade’s debut treads water. Well.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘Here we go again, more indie bullshit.’ Whoa – let’s not pass judgement so expeditiously. Richard Ayoade, the bespectacled geek from the IT Crowd, was in the director’s chair after all; so why not humour the indie bullshit for a paragraph or two?
Oliver Tate, fifteen-year old kid from the drab Welsh suburbs, is your typical protagonist for your typical coming-of-age tale. Split by five title cards, the story is told episodically around particular people coming into Oliver’s adequate existence. These are Jordana, his would-be girlfriend if only he were a bad boy; and Graham (an on-form Paddy Considine), the new neighbour who begins interfering with his parent’s muted relationship. Sloppy kissing, bullying, teenage angst inner monologues abound. Personal pitfalls and triumphs ensue.
Okay, so here it is. It’s genuinely funny, and has characters you can care for. Ayoade’s rapid but sure-footed editing allows the humour in particular situations to come through – especially when it comes to Oliver’s parents – and the quite original set-ups have plenty opf laughs going for them. Oliver’s continous monologue is voice-over done right – no unecessary exposition, just insights which relate to the images onscreen. Craig Roberts brings the right amount of quirky to the role (take note, Juno); he is endearing, and the only time his character comes across pretentious is when he’s doing something cringe-worthingly romantic for Jordana. So you have to like him, really, if not for his hilarious daydreams concerning the school’s reaction to his untimely death.
Along with a unique, understated ending on the shore, Submarine treads the right line through the indie mush. Unrelatable characters, misjudged higher-than-thou humour, and arty yet ultimately unaffective storytelling is non-existent. In fact, Submarine is a very straightforward film, and simply doesn’t care – which is refreshing for a film of a smaller scale. With Ayoade at the helm, this sub doesn’t sink.