Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Submarine DVD review

There’s something really annoying about reviewing Submarine when it’s on DVD, as opposed to on when its theatrical run – basically, all you’re doing is looking over at the people who gushed the first time around and meekly validating what they said, with only minor variations you can call your own – maybe you can make a really stupid observation or aside that they rightly skipped over.

Still, bravely I soldier on and join the chorus of a million voices that came before me by stating for the record that Submarine is a genuinely fantastic, unforgettable and potentially timeless film, one that captures all the joy of cinema and undoes the damage to cinema done by Shyamalan, Bay and all the other cine-transgressors that we all kinda secretly love.

This classic fish-out-of-water plus coming-of-age tale follows school-kid Oliver (Craig Roberts) as he clumsily falls in love with classmate Jordana (Yasmin Paige), while watching his parents’ own relationship flounder amid their own failed aspirations. Struggling to convince the world of his own potential greatness, Oliver finds himself instead wrestling with frustrations – his own difficulty in fitting in with a world that doesn’t get him, and his mum’s mid-life crisis, as she risks her marriage to get reacquainted with a a boyfriend from her past who’s re-emerged, played by Paddy Considine. Directed by sort-of first-timer Richard Ayoade (well, he directed the Artic Monkey’s concert movie, Arctic Monkeys At The Apollo, and episodes of the impressive, yet a bit overlooked 80s terror spoof, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace), it’s so steeped in warmth, character, tone and style that it’s nigh on impossible to pick holes. If there’s a line to be drawn it’s to the likes of Harold & Maude and the films of Wes Anderson, deeply humanistic comedies that use eccentricity to draw out depth of character.

But Ayoade goes further – he never shies away from the flaws that could make his characters believable and unlikeable, therefore swerving the overly mannered schtick of Wes Anderson. And he does it all with an incredibly flamboyant and expansive directorial style; Oliver’s self-indulgent flights of fantasy give a widescreen view to the kitchen sink everyday story, and provide the Catcher In The Rye vibe - all of it done with a rich visual style that deftly mixes techniques and formats to keep it buzzing along. Much has been made of Ayoade's cine-literate approach, yet it is rich and always remains on the right side of indulgent. This restraint goes with the whole sense of deftly controlled execution - Submarine manages to be both big and small at the same time, bold yet intimate – summed up by the theatricality of Paddy Considine's Graham, who verges on parody, yet is ultimately as easy to empathise with as anyone else in this rampant joy of a film.

To recap: yeah, it's really good. And so are the extras. To be honest, they could be a procession of clips of cast and crew telling me I'm a dick and I'd still say you buy it. It's not though, it's a healthy pack of extended scenes, Q&As, featurettes and other nuggets. Nothing more to say, really, let's just assume you're off to buy it, shall we?

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