Sunday, February 19, 2012

Submarine (2010): An Instant Classic

I finally got around to watching Submarine (2010) today because the WideSight shop on Lockhart Road marked it down to $49HKD (less than $7USD).

A recent review over at A Hero Never Dies also sealed the deal in advance. And, like that always readable blogger, I felt that Oliver in the film bore a certain similarity to good old Max Fischer.

Craig Roberts is pretty solid as Oliver, our hero and narrator. Like Max Fischer before him, he's not an entirely likable character. There's a fine line between being precocious and being a selfish jerk and Oliver crosses that line frequently.

Still, the film is more subtle with this sort of thing than any American film would ever be. Oliver is not perfect but he's human and recognizable to a viewer.

(Add to that the fact that Roberts' performance calls to mind a young Woody Allen in many moments.)

The other reason to go back some 14 years to Max Fischer is that this is perhaps the most well written teen character we've seen on cinema screens since Rushmore (1998).

The budding love affair between Oliver and his dream girl (Jordana) is well done and I found myself almost crying with joy during the film's exquisite and perfectly paced first half.

Another plus here is the presence of the always excellent Noah Taylor as Oliver's dad.

Paddy Considine adds another wacko to his CV. Really, he's never going to top Morell in A Room for Romeo Brass (1999) for me. I've not seen all of his films but he's always an interesting actor and, oddly, he underplays the kook in Submarine (2010) a bit. The character -- that mullet! -- is a broad one, to be sure, but Considine tones things down a bit and leaves a lot of questions unanswered about this character. We're never quite sure what that fellow is up to beyond his New Age claptrap.

Yasmin Paige is fantastic as Jordana. She makes the school-girl less a simple object of affection and more a real character. As viewers, we only know of her what Oliver chooses to reveal as a narrator but, still, she seems altogether more mature, if a bit caustic, than Oliver.

The film lost a bit of steam in the mid-section but, still, it's a near masterpiece as far as I'm concerned.

Submarine (2010) shows a character in the process of growing up and, frankly, that ending is so good because Oliver is a bit of a selfish idiot at times.

And the scenery of the Welsh countryside adds immeasurably to the mood of the picture.

I feel a bit stupid now having waited so long to finally watch such an affecting and touching film. Submarine (2010) is just a joy to watch.