By Gary Murray


Starring Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Patty Consadine, Yasmin Paige and Craig Roberts


Written and directed by Richard Ayoade


Running time 94 min


MPAA Rating R


Selig Film Rating Matinee


One of the things I like to do is go into a movie totally unaware of what to expect.  In an era where every other film is either a franchise, a remake or from another media source where every element has been a part of the advertising extreme; there is something exciting about seeing a film with no pre-screening baggage.  I had no idea of what to expect when seeing Submarine.  It is the most wonderful of surprises.


The story opens with a slate where Oliver writes that the tale takes place in Wales and that the US has never invaded the country.  He asks the US not to invade his country.  It has that flippant little jab that sets a perfect mood.  We get slates of a prologue, three different chapters and an epilogue.


The story is of fifteen-year-old Oliver Tate (Noah Taylor), a confused kid trying to make his way through school.  He sees an opening for a relationship with Jordana (Yasmin Paige) a dark girl with a perchance for setting fires.  The two first kiss as a way to bring about jealousy from a former boyfriend.  Soon, the plans backfire and the two become a quirky item. 


Oliver’s mom (Alice Hawkins) and dad (Craig Roberts) are settled into a middle-class doldrums.   A recent move-in to the house down the lane is of a former beau of mom, a New Age guru Graham (Patty Consadine) with a painted party van.   The new neighbor causes a stirring into mom and a source of threat to dad.


The story of Submarine is of how Oliver has to deal with all the pains of new love and first love while he has to take on the idea that his parents may actually break apart.  It is a touching and heartfelt journey through all that is young love.   


Alice Hawkins is one of the best actresses of the new generation that has come out of Britain.  In every role she has brought to this shore, she is a powerhouse of emotions.  Here, she is a bit stoic but still intense.  There is this sadness in her eyes of a life that might be, a sadness that carries her to question her choices. 


Patty Consadine as the neighbor just steals his New Age scenes.  In a cross between a barker and Zaphod Beeblebrox from Hitchhiker’s, he spouts the drivel that some find a degree of hope.  It is all just a bit of hawking to sell his products but it shines as a piece of cinema.


The biggest praises have to be given to young Noah Taylor as our lead.  He is the right blend of quirks and confusion that is endearing.  He does everything he can to keep his parents together, from forging love letters to messing with the bedroom dimmer switch.  The bouncing back and forth between his love life and trying to make another one happen becomes creepy and charming at the same time.  The voice-overs are filled with quips and asides that bring laughs. 


The film is based on the novel by Joe Dunthorne but director Richard Ayoade crafts the story into a special entity all its own.   He knows all the beats that make up both first time teen love and the struggle of keeping the fire alive.  This is a master stroke of storytelling that holds together.  He also captures all that is the sullen majesty of Wales.  The cold shores are as inviting as they are frigid. 


Submarine is just the kind of film for those who are already tired of the big blockbusters.  It is a weird little tale that just about everyone can relate. 







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