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Netflix Review: “Submarine”

Netflix Review: “Submarine”

Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige in "Submarine." Photo courtesy of Film4 Productions

Netflix Review: “Submarine”
May 29
13:01 2013

James Clay / Intern

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

British-born actor and comedian Richard Ayoade, best known to American audiences for his role starring alongside Ben Stiller in 2012’s “The Watch,” took a break from being in front of the camera and made his directorial debut with the 2010 film “Submarine.” This coming-of-age dramedy is sure to develop a cult following over time, with stylish camera work anchored by a strong script and fascinating performances keeping the film afloat from start to finish.

“Submarine” takes place in Wales during the 1980s and follows 15-year-old social outcast Oliver Tate, played by Welsh actor Craig Roberts. Tate has only two objectives: To reignite the romance in his parents’ deteriorating marriage and to lose his virginity by his 16th birthday.

Tate tells the story through narration, providing a clever way to display his disconnected personality and shows the audience the world through his eyes. Roberts’ performance far exceeds his experience, bringing a sense that Tate is wise beyond his years without forfeiting the naivety of a teenager. He’s a complex character filled with angst, and doesn’t have a problem speaking his mind at incredibly inappropriate times – especially when he opens up to his girlfriend Jordana, played by English actress Yasmin Paige. Tate is not only concerned with his own love life, but also suspicious that his mother is growing too close to their eccentric neighbor who claims to be a psychic.

British comedian and actor Richard Ayoabe makes his feature-length movie directing debut with "Submarine." He is shown in Chicago, Illinois, on May 17, 2011. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

“Submarine,” with its episodic structure, ironic characters and dry humor, suggests that Ayoade was influenced by the work of fellow indie filmmaker Wes Anderson, who garnered critical acclaim for last year’s “Moonrise Kingdom.”

Although it is a challenging task for some filmmakers, Ayoade successfully incorporates heartwarming moments in between the irony, especially in scenes that feature Tate and Jordana’s romance, and blends it with the overall dark tone of the film. It seems that Ayoade’s goal with this project was to capture the innocence and selfishness that goes along with the “growing pains” of adolescence.

“Submarine” is filled with anxiety, comedy and features endearing scenes that aren’t too sappy. The film succeeds based on its stylish elements, solid script and engaging performances. Ayoade, in just one film, has developed his own style as a filmmaker – you might call him Wes Anderson’s British counterpart.

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