Harvey Critic - 22/04


There have been so many coming of age tales in the movies that one can't help wondering whether everything about teens has already been said. "Submarine" deals with a 15-year-old at the cusp of something or other, maybe adulthood, maybe insight, but probably neither. At the end of the movie, which is based on a novel by Joe Dunthorne and adapted for the screen by director Richard Ayoade, the intelligent, imaginative, but sometimes cruel Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) has not changed much. He is self-absorbed like every other teen, but so much into himself and his presumed ability to change the world around him that he succeeds only in making thing worse.

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Photo: Craig Roberts in Submarine (2011). Courtesy of the Sundance Institute © 2011.

The Weinstein Company

Reviewed for Arizona Reporter
By Harvey Karten

Grade: C+
Directed By: Richard Ayoade
Written By: Richard Ayoade, from the novel by Joe Dunthorne
Cast: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Sally Hawkins
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 4/21/11
Opens: June 3, 2011

"Submarine" will remind movie buffs of the French New Wave ("400 Blows" comes only somewhat to mind) and will refresh the memory of others about films like "Rushmore," in which Max Fischer, a precocious 15-year-old, tries to court his teacher. Others will stretch their imaginations to compare Oliver to J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, a cynical preppie who makes wry observations about everybody around him.

Ultimately, "Submarine," however its imaginative and occasionally surreal observations about strange goings-on in Swansea, Wales, does not break new ground. However Craig Roberts's performance makes the going worthwhile.

Craig Roberts is Oliver Tate, who attends a Welsh school that requires boys to wear blazers and ties and who are well behaved in class unless you think passing notes is too disruptive. But boys will be boys outside the classroom as when one overweight girl has her school bag thrown around and she herself falls into a big puddle. Oliver is concerned about two events in his life: his parents' failing marriage, and (surprise!) his desire to lose his virginity. He tells the story with voiceovers that can become irritating as a means of disclosing information, as he relates how his parents, who have always dimmed the ceiling lights when having sex, have kept the lamps on full illumination now for seven months. He believes his mom, Jill Tate (Sally Hawkins) is conducting an affair with Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine) an old friend and new-agey charlatan, and is determined by spying on them to save his folks' marriage. The lad may have also inherited the depression that afflicts his dad, Lloyd Tate (Noah Taylor).

Most of the story finds Oliver winning the affection of a high-spirited Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige), though he teases her about hers eczema and finds her hands scaly (a possible fish metaphor since Oliver is often surrounded by water with a dad who is a marine biologist). Director Richard Ayoade wants us to admire how quirky he can make his movie but quirky has been overdone in indies for quite a while.

Unrated. 97 minutes. © 2011 Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online.

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