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 end of the film, when Jordana sits next to her new boyfriend while talking to Oliver, she puts her hair back behind her ears. In the very next shot, her hair is back in front of her ears. See more »
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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