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Submarine Film Review Essay

You may have heard the tale of Oliver Tate, a 15 year old lost boy who thinks of himself as a literary genius. Oliver has an unusual screen presence, much like the rest of the cast, like he his shell shocked by everyday life. He has a very much skewered; almost autistic perception of the world around him. Oliver has two main aims; to explore beneath the sullen facade of our pyromaniac love interest; Jordana Bevan and to rekindle the marriage of his parents.

Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is our protagonist, the puppeteer of a film about his life; narrated by him as he sits in his bedroom at his typewriter pondering his bizarre existence. What makes Oliver such an interesting character is that he doesn’t follow the trend of most protagonists, always being the alter-ego of the writer or director therefore they will be kind and compassionate and wonderful however Tate is cold, placid and shows no empathy to anyone else’s tragedy. He is incredibly self-indulgent.

His iconic black duffel coat and notepad are reminiscent to a 1940’s ‘Clark Kent’ esque news reporter as Oliver reports on his life. He is incredibly disconnected to the world around him like his soul sits a few inches back from his eyes. The camera exposes his disjointed, skewered perception of reality by breaking the fourth wall and communicating the inner workings of Oliver’s mind to the viewer using close-up shots and the lyrics of the underscore. “Submarine” is derived from the novel by Joe Dunthorne and was transformed into the genius art-form that it is by director Richard Ayoade.

Comedian- Bunny and the Bull. ) Richard is no stranger to the camera but this was his debut feature length film. “Submarine” is an iconic fusion of Ayoade’s deadpan, tongue in cheek, dark comedic delivery. His direction is very prominent within the film. “Submarine” has a very homemade unpolished feel to its production, ranging its camera work from sequences of vintage super eight filming to distorted shorts through a kaleidoscope. It has influences of silent film through its san-serif style title frames for each section of the film.

Ayoade creates a very clinical, stiff backed cast with minimal interactions. It’s this delayed awkwardness that makes the cliched romantic presence of fireworks, bicycle rides and beaches almost ironic. This placid nature is so very unique to this film. And then there’s Alex Turners delicate and beautiful soundtrack, something very diverse to what you’d expect from the ‘Arctic Monkeys’ frontman. The music is driven through the film by the vehicle of Oliver’s cassette tape, which has a positive A side and a negative B side that is turned by Oliver as the story his told.

The film is so nostalgically of its time it’s untrue. It is reminiscent of a beloved era of popular British culture. It has very much been influenced by memories of both Ayoade’s and Dunthorne childhoods in “Submarine’s” early eighties setting making the film an ingenious pop fable. There is a gritty honesty to “Submarine” that you would only find in a British film. There’s something very special about British film. It is raw and it is exposing and that’s what sets it apart from anything else. Submarine” is a perfect example of an incredibly British film. Submarine falls into the extensive generic genre of “coming-of-age comedy”, a genre that is hugely dominated by the American film industry. A film as unique and quirky as “submarine” could easily be spoilt by a American production as it would be at risk of catching the infection of the cliched American teen movie with perfect actors in a perfect setting, awfully artificial and forced comedy and of course the happily ever after.

That’s what makes “Submarine” so refreshing, it keeps its integrity and certainly it’s extremely British styling’s and very much holds its own amongst a sea of the hundreds of other generic films of its genre. “Submarine” is one of those films that can’t really be faulted because really you can’t compare it to anything else. It is clever and symbolic of a young boy who plunged down too deep into his own thoughts and self-discovery, using the repeated theme of a submarine.

It delves down through themes of mortality and depression to uncover bittersweet dark comedy, that is just so blunt you can’t help but overlook the sadness and just celebrate a film that is no doubt the turning point for new; raw distinctive British talent, in front and behind the camera. If this film will teach you anything it’s that reading the dictionary isn’t always a good thing, to never trust a mystic, that setting fire to stuff is fun and of course that “the ocean is six miles deep. ” Submarine is a very special film.


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