Newest Review: ... It is more like his work with The Last Shadow Puppets than the Arctic Monkeys. The DVD is packed with extras - so far I've only watch... more
Bizarre name - there is very little Submarine action here...
Member Name: SpiderJamb
Advantages: Quirky love story - brilliant soundtrack
Disadvantages: Could be a bit hit and miss with some people
This is Richard Ayoade's feature film directorial debut, having previously directed some Arctic Monkeys' music videos, as well as their Live at the Apollo DVD. If the name sounds familiar, you are probably aware of his acting work in The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd and Garth Merenghi's Darkplace. I expected a similar offbeat, surreal nature in his approach here, but it was largely a realistic take, especially compared to the trailer for Bunny and the Bull, which preceded the film. It was very similar to his music video work, with wide panoramic shots and evocative location shots that worked well with the music, which was provided by Arctic Monkeys front-man, Alex Turner.
I had previously heard the soundtrack from the EP that Turner released prior to the film, and so many of the tracks were recognisable to me as I watched. This may have listened the impact slightly as I was associating other memories to them, rather than experiencing them for the first time in conjunction with the sequences they were written for.
In terms of plot, the story is about Oliver Tate, a fifteen-year old outcast at school, who is somewhat in denial over his lack of social standing, and has a crush on a fellow student - the straight-talking, Jordana. Whilst dealing with the burgeoning relationship with her, he has the stress of his home life, where his parents are drifting apart due to the reappearance of his mother's first love.
Reading that synopsis, it seems rather laden with drama and lots of hand-wringing moments, but because the film is viewed through the perception and supplied with the narration of the protagonist, we are given his naive and misguided commentary on the events that happen to him, which brings humour to the situation, unbeknownst to him. The story itself reminded me heavily of Gregory's Girl, with the clueless romantic paired up with the more street-smart female, and they're both set in that grim 80's period, where everything looks shit, to be blunt.
There is a scene quite early on where Ben Stiller appears in a blink-and-miss-it cameo on a television screen. I noticed this and thought it quite odd, especially considering the 80's setting, and it wasn't until the credits that it became clear. It turned out that Ben Stiller was one of the producers of this movie, so he obviously did a little cameo, although it just managed to confuse me, and made me wonder if Ben Stiller was some kind of time traveller.
Overall, this is a nice, quirky 'coming of age' comedy, which has a distinctly British flavour, in terms of setting and tone (which makes it more surprising Ben Stiller was involved). I did find the story fell flat on some of the more emotional beats, such as the break-up scene and some of the more indulgent musical intervals, but it wasn't totally unconvincing. As I mentioned earlier, it could be the Gregory's Girl of this generation - which is high praise, as that is one of the more iconic British 'coming of age' movies from the 80s.
Review originally appeared on my blog
Summary: A unique love story, featuring the superb musical talents of Alex Turner