TIFF Movie Review: Richard Ayoade’s Submarine

Richard Ayoade‘s Submarine is the kind of film I hope to discover at film festivals and share with friends.

Based on the Curtis Brown Prize-winning novel by Joe Dunthorne, this dark indie comedy is about a 15-year-old boy who “must fight save his mother from the advances of a mystic and simultaneously lure his eczema-strafed girlfriend in to his bedroom.” It is a coming of age story which is equal parts Rushmore, Election and Squid and the Whale.

I really hope that Fox Searchlight picks this film up and markets it to the masses, as it deserves to be seen (lets hope that Sony Pictures Classics stays away from this one). Write the title of this film down right now or add it to your netflix queue (if that’s even possible), because you’re gonna wanna see it when it becomes available.

Ayoade is probably better as a comic actor who has appeared as Moss in the Emmy Award-winning television series The IT Crowd and as Saboo on The Mighty Boosh (which he also served as script editor/writer). He has been directing music videos for The Arctic Monkeys (“Fluorescent Adolescent”, “Crying Lightning” and “Cornerstone”), the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Super Furry Animals (“Run Away”), Kasabian, the Last Shadow Puppets (“Standing Next to Me” and “My Mistakes Were Made For You”) and Vampire Weekend (“Oxford Comma” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”). In 2008, Ayoade firected the feature-length concert film The Arctic Monkeys at the Apollo. Submarine marks Ayoade’s narrative feature directorial debut.

The film is quirky, but not overly so. The book is told entirely from the perspective of a witty 15-year-old named Oliver Tate, which allows the movie to use a bunch of clever narrative devices, including a couple fantasy montages showing what might or could happen. Submarine is shot through nostalgic eyes but isn’t clearly a period piece, giving the film a timeless quality.

Newcomer Craig Roberts is fantastic in his debut, and Yasmin Paige perfectly walks the fine line between the unromantic playground pyromaniac and the girl next door who just needs someone to connect with. Oliver’s parents Lloyd and Jill are played by the wonderful Noah Taylor (Almost Famous, The Life Aquatic) and Golden Globe-winning actress Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky, Never Let Me Go).

Ayoade has an incredible command of tone, character and cinematic grammar — I can’t believe this is his first movie.

/Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.

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