Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Precocious Oliver struggles with being popular in school but when a dark-haired beauty takes interest in him, he's determined to become the best boyfriend in the world. Meanwhile, his parents' already rocky relationship is threatened when his mother's ex-boyfriend moves in next door. Oliver makes some unorthodox plans to ensure that his parents stay together and that Jordana still likes him. Written by
Towards the beginning of the film's prologue, Oliver is imagining what would happen if he were to die. In the daydream, Oliver refers to the man on the PA system as "Mr. Dunthorne". This is most likely a reference to Joe Dunthorne, the author of the novel which the movie is based upon. See more »
When Oliver leaves Jordana's house after Christmas dinner, the car parked in the driveway is a 1997 Vauxhall Astra. The film is set eleven years previously in 1986. See more »
We sat down to have what might have been Jordana's mother's last Christmas dinner, which i hope it wasn't because the turkey was a bit dry and the sprouts were soggy and out of focus.
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Poignant, economical and distinctive British coming-of-romance
A wonderful debut feature from Richard Ayoade with two sensational principal performances out of nowhere making it happen. I loved the way this film wore itself lightly, with a surface wit and nouvelle-vague jump-cut skip to its step. At the same time deep - Submarine deep? - things are stirring, not least in the uncompromising but nicely pitched score by Andrew Hewitt.
Submarine is a film that borrows the spirit but not the meat of ideas from other films. Woody Allen's diaphanous urban romances are clearly a touchstone (Oliver has a sketch of Allen above his bed). Ayoade's sensibility extends the comedy without making the reprisal bittersweetness too heavy. Everything is similarly tempered, compassionate. I laughed at characters (Paddy Considine's new age numpty being the obvious target) but never with the scowl that attends Mike Leigh's sightline.
Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige have a decade of acting work behind them but I've never heard of them before. There's no excuse to be had any longer. Both of them are simply outstanding. Paige manages to be that ideal, semi-opaque teenage girl twisting between knowing the secrets of the world and a contradictory fragility. Roberts - the prima inter pares, it's his story - pulls off the dead-pan without simply being dead look (and also has a wonderful, heart-rending running style). Between them they manage a wonderful updating of the parochial romance of the movies of Bill Forsyth, like Local Hero and, of course, Gregory's Girl.
It's not without its shortcomings. It's a rather tightly wound film in places, with meaning in frames where perhaps it would benefit from being allowed to breathe. However it really is a four-star debut and deserves a warm reception. 7.5/10
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