Written and directed by Richard Ayoade
Starring Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine
The coming of age of a teenager who’s also an outsider is such a familiar storytelling motif that it’s practically become its own genre. Yet writer-director Richard Ayoade, best known for his work on British TV, finds an effective way into that narrative in “Submarine.”
The movie smartly evokes the yearnings and insecurities of a young man gradually growing into his own skin, with its closely cropped depiction of teenage suffering, a stylized visual sensibility that never veers into pastiche, and a sincere lead performance from Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate.
Mocked at school, desperate for a girlfriend and panicked by the increasingly loveless marriage of his parents Lloyd (Noah Taylor) and Jill (Sally Hawkins), our hero finds respite in the person of a fellow classmate, a quirky pyromaniac named Jordana (Yasmin Paige).
The film unfolds evocatively, with scenes of the characters drifting through the garishly designed homes and vast industrial expanse of the bleak Welsh setting. The human moments stick, given weight by Ayoade and carried out with sensitivity by his terrific cast.
Plus the deadpan humor and outsized point-of-view digressions are perfect for a picture that lives in the offbeat perspective of its protagonist and beautifully captures his hormonal angst.