Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Submarine (2010) Wonderfully sweet and enjoyable, yet despite its sea based title, lacks depth

Viewing context:

Saw as part of a double bill. Well actually a triple bill, but I am discounting Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger on accounts of it being shite. I was down at the Media Museum Bradford for my bi-weekly senior citizen screening film discussion, which unfortunately was the dross mentioned above. I saw that in the afternoon I could clear the lifeless Woody Allen taste out of my mouth with a British cinema double bill of this and Route Irish.

Directed by Richard Ayoade, who also wrote the screenplay adaptation of Joe Dunthorne's novel of the same name. Ayoade is best recognised for his work in British TV (most notably the IT Crowd), but has also made a number of music videos with the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

What happened:
Told from a teenage Welsh boy's perspective as he traverses those formative years of adolescence. During which he must confront the usual obstacles such as the opposite sex and the realisation of one's parents' fallibility.

What I liked:
Interesting characters: The film is fun and the characters that populate the narrative are all interesting, without ever being superficially injected, solely for entertainment purposes.
Captures adolescence: That confused and troublesome period is vividly illustrated; specifically the voice over. I have recently come to the realisation that despite me being adamant that I don't like voice overs, there are two very different voice overs. There are omnipresent, pointless voice overs that are lazy, telling you what the film could just as easily show you (I'm looking at you Woody Allen). Then there are voice overs from characters within the narrative, that aren't telling you what could be shown, but telling you what they think is happening. The penny finally dropped for me when this difference was succinctly brought to my attention by Simon Kinnear (@kinnemaniac on Twitter) during a few beers at BIFF.

What I didn't like:
Ending: Without giving anything away, I’d just say that I wasn’t overly blown away by how the end of the film played out/fell together.
No depth (Submarine... depth... get it? I'm funny me): It doesn't really mean a great deal. This isn't a massive concern and it is easily charming and sweet enough to make up for this. But in my mind it will never be 'great', because it doesn't elevate above being what it is on the surface (another idiotic pun; aren't I doing good here).

Relationships, and life by extension, is a bit messy: As I said above, I didn't take a great deal from the film apart from the truth that adolescence is all over the place and people are unique individuals. But it all works out in its own disjointed way.
Everyone is their own person, they don't have to be more like other people in order to have a connection - i.e. the way he tries to push his books on the girl, as if they have to like the same things. Or the fact that his parents couldn't be much different. People just have to be themselves, and he doesn't have to be what he keeps referring to as 'the world's greatest boyfriend'

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