Submarine – Review


Directed by Richard Ayoade. Starring Sally HawkinsPaddy ConsidineNoah TaylorCraig RobertsYasmin PaigeGemma Chan.

Early review at recent festivals (Including Sundance and Toronto) have been quite positive on this small Welsh Independent film, which feels so much like a cross between Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze: in fact, it has indeed been compared to Rushmore, but also you can’t help seeing in Craig Roberts something from Dustin Hoffman in the Graduate.

I was less taken by it. On one hand it’s the sort of film I really want to like (Mainly because it’s been founded by the now gone British Council, but also because it’s always refreshing to see a little Indi trying to make it among those big Hollywood monsters), however I just couldn’t help feeling that not only I’ve seen it all before, but that behind the sporadic bittersweet and quirky humor, it all felt a bit too cold and calculated and in the end it was just very “gray”, just like that Welsh weather.

There are good individual isolated sharp moments, but the pace of film as a whole feels completely off. It is very self-indulgent (those moments with the 8mm footage for example, outstay their welcome) and you can’t help feeling a strange discrepancy between the  fast witty humor from the script and the actual staging of it. The film is patchy and uneven: from the very misjudged soundtrack (the score does not match the pictures nor the dialogue on the screen and the songs didn’t always work for me),  to the way it’s been filmed (very real at times but very stylized in other places). Finally, editing wise, it was too slow when it should have been faster (somewhere in the middle for example), and too fast when it should actually have been slower: the whole subplot with the parents at the end seems to resolve too quickly, for example. In fact the whole ending felt like it had been attached at the last moment and it’s too sweet and clean for this type of film.

The stuff around the kids is works a lot better than anything to do with the parents. The portrayal of the uncomfortable teenager feels quite accurate, honest and, despite the not-always-necessary voice over, somewhat poignant too. However beyond that, there were too many caricatures too, who contributed to the uneven feel I had at the end: Paddy Considine’s character was way too cartoony and the moments with his top speeches were clearly other examples something else which definitely could have been trimmed a bit.

On a silly side -note, I really didn’t like the titles at the front and the typeface of the captions in general… But that’s just a question of taste I guess.

On the whole “submarine” is an interesting yet flawed debut film but I’m looking forward to see what Ayoade does next.


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