Dir: Richard Ayoade
Somebody clearly loves films…
This is a film that has been made by someone who watches lots of films and loves the different techniques that can be used in film. I can’t possibly list them all, but fun was definitely had with the editing.
‘Submarine’ is set in 1980’s Swansea (Wales) and follows 15 year-old Oliver Tate as he deals with his parents strained relationship and his own. Oliver is a very strange young man, who is deliberately trying to ‘find himself’, and narrates throughout in a very knowing way. He has an unhealthy interest in his parents relationship, and speaks to them in ways that would be more expected the other way round, at times very direct and trying to control the situation he sees developing. As a character, Oliver stands out, and proves ultimately likeable by the end, even if he’s hard to fathom while getting there.
There are numerous references to filmmaking. I don’t know if this is something that has transferred over from the source material, a novel by Joe Dunthorne, but it is certainly emphasised, and rather than simply just mentioning film techniques, they are then shown. For example, at one point Oliver says that the time he’s spending with his girlfriend is turned into “the Super 8 footage of memory”, at which point the sequence is shown as Super 8 film.
Throughout the film it makes use of fades, not to black, or even to white, but rather to blue or red. There are also titles placed at certain points, including ‘Prologue’ and ‘Epilogue’, which refer back to a novel style structure, but are shown in a way that makes full use of the visual medium of film.
I did enjoy watching this, for a few different reasons. Firstly it was nice to see a film set in a place I know somewhat, whereas a good majority of British films seem to feel obligated to gravitate to London, having a film in Wales is a nice change. As a film studies graduate, I also liked the little nods to filmmaking and technique, it’s good to see editing used in fresh and fun ways, and that it was done well rather than just cramming the film full of them to show off or as an academic exercise. Richard Ayoade’s personality and way comes through in the style and dialogue quite clearly, there are moments of unexpected pausing and pacing, lines delivered in ways that are unusual, and that’s Ayoade’s way when acting and presenting himself, but they translate well here as it gives the film a unique way that’s unpredictable.