A stylized love story lacking naval ships

Submarine (2010)

Despite its title, the 2010 directorial debut by British actor Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd, The Boxtrolls) has little to do with naval crafts. Submarine tells the story of 15-year-old loner Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) as he navigates the twisted world of relationships. His odd and sudden romance with the enigmatic Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Page), whose “only real faults are her sporadic bouts of eczema” according to Oliver, puts forth a series of challenges that he clumsily conquers.

Oliver and Jordana don their own unique colors (Oliver’s being blue, Jordana’s being Red) and their own unique styles, but as the two fall deeper in love, they begin to show hints of the other’s color in their dress. They do not merge colors to make purple however, for the two are still very much separate entities; instead they begin to show both emotionally and sartorially the pieces that they have taken from each other’s personality and added to their own.

While Oliver struggles to stay afloat in his relationship with Jordana, he also faces the loss of passion in his parent’s relationship. He fears that his mother has rekindled an old flame, and that his father is not brave enough to face her about it. What follows is a neurotic and manipulative plight to save his parent’s marriage that leads to a lack of regard for his own romantic problems.

Submarine is a dramatic masterpiece of a directorial debut. The symmetrical framing is reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s cinematography, yet Ayoade retains an element of British flair that makes it all his own. The dichotomy between the orchestral music playing within Oliver’s own head as the sort of soundtrack to the biopic that is his life and the music written by Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner that exists physically on his mix tape displays the two sides of the protagonist: the obsessive-compulsive man who wants to control everything and the lonely boy who wants to be loved. With beautiful performances, brilliant writing, and a unique aesthetic to it, Submarine truly is, as Oliver Tate puts it, “An important film. Watch it with respect.”


*Disclaimer: Not all films reviewed are appropriate for all ages. This film is rated R by the MPAA for language and some sexual content.