Film & TV

Submarine Plunges Deep into Adolescent Angst

In Submarine, which opens this weekend, Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a rampant 15-year-old only child, has two presiding preoccupations, detailed in rapid voiceover: a broody classmate, Jordana (Yasmin Paige), and the flatlined sex life of his parents (show-stealers Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins), brought to crisis by the arrival of mom's glam-guru old flame (Paddy Considine).

Ben Stiller is the film's executive producer while Richard Ayoade, star of British sitcom The IT Crowd, debuts as a director, and seems hell-bent on emptying his collected toolbox of stylistic effects in one go.

There are "Remember the time . . ." cutaway gags, dream sequences,

Raging Bull flashbulbs, and kaleidoscope fireworks. The place is Wales;

the time is a mashup of the past 30 years, as Crocodile Dundee and Eric

Rohmer movies compete at the local cinema. The allusions don't stop

there: Paige has a Rita Tushingham bob, while Roberts seems cast more

for his marshmallow-malleable face than for any ability to convey depths

of feeling.

Reiterated throughout is the idea of Oliver as self-conscious director

of his own young love and heartbreak--he stages his first time having sex

with Jordana, plays back their salad days in a Super 8 highlight reel

of cavorting in industrial estates, and muses, "I wait 'til the sky

catches up with my mood" during one bout of melancholy. And though

Submarine isn't a dull head-movie, amid the bells and whistles, Roberts

seems less its star than its cameraman.

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Nick Pinkerton