Submarine (Richard Ayoade, 2010)

What's it about? Set in Wales (probably in the late 70s/early 80s), Oliver (Craig Roberts) is an introspective, self-styled intellectual 15 year old, who worries about finding a girlfriend, the state of his parent's marriage and what sort of person he is and will become.

Is it any good? Yes, it is. It's a quirky, bittersweet coming-of-age drama which offsets the comic elements with a underlying melancholy which helps give it some gravitas. Roberts gives an appealing performance as the perpetually duffel-coated (anti-)hero and there's good deadpan support from the rest of the cast, particularly Paddy Considine as a mystic ninja who puts the moves on Oliver's mum (Sally Hawkins). The stylistic devices, including a self-aware narration, direct-to-camera addresses and freeze-frame, come across as clever, rather than gimmicky, and there's a couple of appropriate songs from Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner which fit the mood of the film nicely. It doesn't exactly cover any new ground, then, but it is an affectionate, blackly comic tale and an assured directorial debut from Ayoade, who could be one to watch.

I don't trust you. what do others think? Critics and audiences have been generally impressed, drawing favourable comparisons with previous films which seem to provide a number of direct and indirect influences. Oliver's character and elements of the film recall the likes of Benjamin from The Graduate, Harold from Harold & Maude, Gregory from Gregory's Girl and Antoine from The 400 Blows, whilst Ayoade himself says he drew inspiration from blackly funny films, such as A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver, Badlands and Rushmore. But, for me, the writing and assembly of the film brings to mind Woody Allen more than most, and it was no surprise to find afterwards that Ayoade is a big fan of his.

Anything else I should know? Ayoade will probably be best known for playing ubergeek Moss in the popular (but dismally unfunny) sitcom The IT Crowd. Another few films like this and we'll be able to forgive him for that.

What does the Fonz think? The (Misf)IT Crowd

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