Thursday, August 4, 2011

Submarine (Rhoades)

“Submarine” Surfaces at Tropic Cinema
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

No, this isn’t a remake of the animated Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” This film by newbie director Richard Ayoade is a modern-day coming-of-age romance about a 15-year-old Welsh lad who has two goals: To lose his virginity (isn’t that the goal of every 15-year-old?) and to break up his mom and her potential paramour.

Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is the kid in question. His angst is by-and-large funny, making audiences laugh at not-normally humorous topics like divorce or brain tumors. Socially inept, but he sees himself in a different light. His attempt to woo a pretty classmate backfires, getting him beat up.

The girl of Oliver’s libido (delightful Yasmin Page) is enigmatic, the reason for her rebellious behavior not becoming clear until well into the story.

Meanwhile, Oliver’s mother (Sally Hawkins) is having a flirtation with a self-help guru (Paddy Considine) who lives next door. Since Oliver’s passive marine biologist father (Noah Taylor) is doing nothing about it, the boy makes it his mission to sabotage the liaison. He turns to psychology books to guide his subversive actions.

The surprising thing about this oh-so-British film (actually, it’s Welsh) is that American comic actor Ben Stiller’s production company backed it. Don’t look for a Stiller cameo or his broader brand of comedy in this film. He’s just the impresario who made it happen, seeding the cinematic garden (so to speak). As one moviegoer put it, “It has nothing in common with a Hollywood teen movie.”

Ayoade’s quirky style reflects elements of French New Wave and his use of jump cuts complements the storytelling. The voice-over narration anchors the viewpoint with young Oliver: Yes, he sees his life as a film.

Best known as a television actor, Richard Ayoade shows promise as a director. Think of him as a Welsh version of Wes Anderson, an indie filmmaker with a distinct sense of humor and an aura of moodiness, a master of character-driven movies.

Maybe I’ll take Solares Hill editor Mark Howell to see this film. He’s Welsh, weird accent and all. I want to find out if losing his virginity was this difficult when he was a boy in Wales. Social research and all that.

Editor’s note: Yes, it was.
[from Solares Hill]

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