January 28, 2013

A witty challenge to the coming-of-age genre, Submarine seeks to create an adolescent world that influences the real world. This is to say the protagonist is given the illusion that he has the ability to change the course of his family’s history.


His tactics are harmless espionage conducted routinely in his life. He is well-adjusted yet eccentric. He approaches love in a calculating manner. And he accomplishes what he strategizes. Likewise with the patent failing of his parents marriage, because his father cannot hold the attention of his mother. His largest obstacle to hurdle over in the film is not in growing up, but in attempting to rekindle his parents marriage. Along the way, he develops an amusing teenage romance from his high school.


It seems fitting that there lacks stock characters of teenagers in Wales. Each is individually expresses their personality; we do not see any attempts to fit in. I find this to be a strong claim possessed by secondary school overseas, which does not have societal pressures centered on superficial performance pieces. In other words, each character seems confident with who they are becoming. There does not seem to be anxiety in the lives of this small community. It is as if the hundreds of years of time passing, of the long-standing cultural development, imbue each with identity.


The genius in this work is the scintillating display of Oliver’s eccentricity. It is a flawless lens with which we peer through the world. It does not dilute the storyline; in fact, it is the centerpiece to the story. In such intricate detail, the direction saunters us around his mind’s eye. This makes for a charming presentation.


Does Oliver come of age? Well, he does lose his virginity amidst his self-obsessiveness, though it was neither as frightening nor a defining feature in the film. It just happens. And generally speaking, that is the appearance of the gears in Submarine. They work, exceedingly well, but only drive toward telling us one boy’s short story in his small town in Wales.


Grade: A



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