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Re:tro Re:view – Submarine!

Jondee here at Wales,


Richard Ayaode is an actor in IT Crowd and other comedies and also the writer and director of Submarine. This film is based on a novel by Joe Dunthorne. It is a movie about growing up as a teenager which you might think has already been done in the John Hughes films and left no other ground to cover. You like I would be wrong. The film begins, just in case you need to know it’s a comedy, with a letter to Americans explaining that the story is about Wales, where it is located, and that America has not yet invaded it. Love it! We get the room of the letter writer, Oliver Tate (played to perfection by the low key Craig Roberts), seagulls cawing, and Oliver sitting and staring into the sky. He introduces himself, then we get scenes of Wales, beautiful. The voice may be words from the book, but it seems like they are coming straight from Ayoade. Oliver, in dark blue coat, looks out to sea when we get the Prologue with Oliver in school. His teacher prattles on about self-discovery as Oliver stares off in his “disconnected reality” of the school and his parents (Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor, both well known character actors) reacting to his death in front of news cameras and then resurrection. Including one girl. He tries to pass off a joke note to Zoe (Lily McCann), a large girl. The other girl walks out for a smoke. Part One. Jordana Bevan. He stares at her parting her hair showing her eczema. He sees that Jordana (Yasmin Paige, Maria Jackson in the Sarah Jane Adventures), in her red coat, likes to see Zoe bullied. They run off to the woods throwing Zoe’s pack in keep away. Oliver looks at Jordana. He stares at Zooey pulling back her pack from him, slow motion, brilliantly done, as she falls back into a pool of water! The others run away as Oliver walks with Zoe trying to reassure her. She tells him what to do with himself.


Oliver uses binoculars to see the neighbors dancing, he calls them ninjas. He later sees the neighbors, a man with ridiculous 80’s hair Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine, he was Steven in The World’s End), and Kim-Lin (Gemma Chan from the Humans series) talking to his father. Oliver is worried about Zoe so he typed up a pamphlet, “How to Break the Victim Cycle.” He gives the pamphlet to a person at school who knows Zoe. Jordana sees him deliver the pamphlet. Dissecting frogs, Jordana asks Oliver about Zoe, she knows about the pamphlet. She tells him to meet under a bridge with his camera and diary. She has a cigarette and a sly smile. Jordana takes the camera and has Oliver kneel. She kisses him taking photos and then has him write about how excited he was about kissing. Jordana asks him if he had kissed before, he thinks about the kiss he had with Zoe after a school disco, she is going to leave the photos around school. Oliver is bullied in front of the school and made to say Jordana is a slut. He is backed to a wall and tells the bully what to do with himself. He is next lying against the wall, bloody, and walks with Jordana. She slips her hand into his, tells him she has eczema, and they kiss. His happy dance after he asks Jordana if she is his girlfriend goes to red. Oliver is back at home thinking about his mother who chases him up the steps. She asks him if he was victimized, sees his black eye, he admits he was defending the honor of his girlfriend. His mother hugs him and then gives him the thumbs up. His father walks into his room, Oliver goes over his father, he has a cassette tape for different stages of relationships. Flashes of Oliver and Jordana, some of the scenes are perfectly filmed as Super 8 (used by Ayoade in the behind the scenes). Oliver has to balance his first romance with possible death and divorce. The film is bittersweet and perfect. Five Matches out of Five!