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Sunday, 14 August 2011

SUBMARINE - A Coming Of Age Story Unlike Any Other

I've just watched Richard Ayoade's directorial début, 'Submarine' - based on Joe Dunthorne's novel. I wanted to see it at the cinema but never got the chance in the end. Now I regret not making time to go. Because 'Submarine' is wonderful on every single level. It is, essentially, a coming of age story set in Swansea, following the life of 15-year-old Oliver Tate as he a) tries to win the heart of his oddball crush Jordana Bevan and b) stop his mother embarking on a passionate affair with her "first love" who has recently become their neighbour.

But 'Submarine' is so much more. It felt different to most films I've ever seen before - there's a style to it that is as much "Cinéma Vérité" as is it "Surrealism". For such a small (in scale, but certainly not in emotive reach) story the whole thing feels so much bigger. I think, mostly, this is because there is not a single performance that misses the mark. 

Most of this blog will likely be about the cast, direction and music because, really, it's these things that make the film so utterly enthralling, not the story itself. So let's look first at our point-of-relation: Oliver Tate is played by Being Human's Craig Roberts, a performance that blew me away. His unique way of almost not acting at all - the way he throws lines away, in dialogue, yet paints every line of narration with wit, heart and intelligence (and a little pretension) just grabs you and refuses to let go; a slice of the life of a character you simply cannot help but relate to in a big, big way. Maybe it's because I'm also a bit of a dick when it comes to Who I Really Am, but it felt as though the character spoke just to me. Roberts is amazing. Completely amazing.

Outstanding also is Yasmin Paige's Jordana Bevan; a guarded, odd girl with a skin complaint and a penchant for petty arson and emotional torture. It's a long way from her character in The Sarah Jane Adventures, where the most expected of her was to be a bit of a tomboy while running away from a fella in a green fat-suit. 

She is definitely One To Watch - a future superstar for sure. She IS Jordana. Not once did I think "Maria said fuck!" In fact, the characters are so real that not even the sight of "him off Gavin and Stacey" and "her off Gavin and Stacey", or even "him off that thing" could drag me out of my total immersion in the film. Every single performance, ever single bit of casting, every line, action, shot, montage, beat and fade are perfect. The entire picture would be perfect if it was just a little longer - but that's just me being greedy (it's a good 90 minutes long as it is). 

There's nothing I can offer to explain why this film is so good or even why I personally enjoyed it so much. I think there's just a feel to it that makes it seem as though the film has its arms wrapped around you. My words as the credits rolled were "that's definitely one for my 'Rainy Afternoon' list". God, I'm making no sense. 

 Okay. I'll start again and I'll be brief: This is a love story, or sorts, with a real "back the underdog" through-line. It's full of incredible performances, beautiful moments of real emotion and it leaves you with a sort of nice-sad feeling. Like when it rains.

Oh, I give up. It's indescribably beautiful, directed in such a way as to make it feel as though you've just watched a piece of art rather than just another coming of age story. And the score is heartbreaking. Alex Turner (of Arctic Monkeys fame) has created the best fit possible for the film in his music. The OST is currently playing on repeat in my flat and, I should think, will do so for some time. It comes as a package; a brilliant film (the word 'movie' seems crass in this instance) with a perfect cast and an outstanding soundtrack. It really is a film that must be experienced - I would highly recommend you do so.

And I hate this post. It says nothing of the humour (funny), the script (cracking), the locations (gorgeous) or the emotion (massive) which this movie has throughout. It's almost the opposite of a Feel Good Film, although it's not really Sad either. I really can't find words to describe it effectively, so I'll use just one - Lovely.