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
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
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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.