As eclectic as the record label that spawned it, Warp Films are to be congratulated for continuing to take a risk with British films which don’t simply conform to the old fallback of class-based drama. Both fresh and familiar, Richard Ayoade’s feature debut shakes up a cocktail of cinematic references and influences, from Kubrick to Hal Ashby and Wes Anderson, resulting in an offbeat coming-ofage story, set against the perpetually overcast backdrop of 1980s Wales.
Adapted from the novel by Joe Dunthorne, Submarine follows the trials of duffel-coated teenager Oliver Tate (Roberts), who negotiates his first fledgling romance with schoolgirl Jordana Bevan (Paige), while simultaneously taking a forensic interest in his parent’s wobbly marriage.
Tate has a precocious self-awareness, narrating his exploits as if already framed as memories, while the film footage of his life plays out. Ayoade interrupts the proceedings with bold colours and portentous chapter headings, and combines grainy home-movie footage, freeze-frames and a whole bag of editing tricks, in what could have been a melange of film school experimentation. But the results are both amusing and complimentary, alongside songs composed by Alex Turner.
Star Rating ★★★★★
Commentary, deleted scenes, music video, interviews, Q&A’s, test footage and a message from executive-producer Ben Stiller.