Have you tried turning your Submarine off and on again?

Orla Hodnett previews Richard Ayoade’s upcoming movie, Submarine

Our beloved Maurice Moss (from Channel 4’s The IT Crowd) has only gone and made a film. Possibly jealous of Chris O’ Dowd’s (Roy’s) success in Hollywood films, such as Dinner for Schmucks and Katharine Parkinson’s (Jen’s)…um,  Malteasers ads, Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut, the coming-of-age comedy, Submarine, comes out this March. This is Ayoade’s first foray into directing a full-length feature, his previous directing experience seen in television series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and in various music videos for the likes of Vampire Weekend (all of which have been rather excellent). The film was recently screened at Toronto International Film Festival as well as the Dublin International Film Festival, with much praise for the first-time film director. So how will Submarine fare? Well, all indications would suggest magnificently.

The film, based on Joe Dunthorne’s novel of the same name (touted as “the greatest coming-of age story since Catcher in the Rye”), deals with the trials and tribulations of misguided, Max Fischer-esque, fifteen year-old Welshman, Oliver Tate. The primary cast is made up of young newcomers: our hero, Oliver Tate is played by Craig Roberts and his first love, Jordana, portrayed by Yasmin Paige. Other more well known faces from the British film scene also star, including Paddy Considine (In America) as a hippy life coach, who tries to seduce our protagonist’s mother (portrayed by An Education’s Sally Hawkins), and Oliver’s dad is played by Noah Taylor, who not-so-long-ago played the father of Charlie Bucket in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The most well known faces tied to the film are behind the camera, with Ben Stiller acting as executive producer (apparently he’s a big Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace fan) and Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys writing a number of songs for the film. Though Stiller is apparently confused as to how he came to read the script of Submarine or, indeed, how he became involved at all, he is highly complimentary of Ayoade’s film, describing him as “annoyingly talented.” Alex Turner and Richard Ayoade were already an established collaborative duo, with Ayoade directing Arctic Monkey’s recent live DVD. Turner’s tracks, which happen to be his first solo effort proper, are quite lovely and tie with the whole ambience of the film well. Turner wrote five original tracks for the film, among them Hiding Tonight and Stuck on the Puzzle, all of which seem to match the leisurely, gentle pace of the film.

Recently released clips and trailers promise a pretty unique viewing experience. The trailer, back-dropped by some ambient French music, clearly introduces the core components of Oliver Tate’s world (as well as the offbeat comic nature of the film): a pyromaniac girlfriend, the ‘storm and stress’ of adolescence, the breakdown of his parents’ relationship, with a little aside reminding us of the dignity of the film industry (“It’s really rude to leave a film before its finished” “To who?” “The film makers” “How are they going to know?” “They just do…” “How?” “They do!”).

From what I have seen, promotion around the film has been limited, but has been greatly hyped nonetheless. Comparisons have been made between Ayoade and greats such as Wes Anderson and Jean- Luc Godard, because of his pace, style and attention to detail. It would seem that an air of delightful creepiness seems to come across from all of the promotional material for the film. Ayoade seems to have captured the awkward, humorous self-consciousness of the protagonist excellently.

All things considered, Submarine promises to be an extremely original piece of cinema. Ayoade is one of the most talented British comic writers and actors working today, so anyone who is familiar with his work is well aware of his capacity for brilliance. With any film hyped by the critics, as this film has been, there is some degree of caution among audiences, but I cannot help but be enthusiastic about this film. Considering it has not even got as far as cinema release, hopefully I’m not being premature in saying  Ayoade’s endearing new take on the coming-of-age tale is real reason for excitement.


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