The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade’s debut British film Submarine was billed as a cult film practically before it even hit cinemas this March, but was it worthy of joining the likes of Withnail and I, This is England and others in the ranks of the British cult greats? With the cult gauntlet thrown down I set out one Orange Wednesday to see if ‘Submarine’ could live up to this furore.
What ensued was humorous, although my plus one and I seemed to be the only two in the smallish middle aged audience laughing as the main character, a teen school boy, spied on his parents lovemaking habits (in the name of saving their marriage) and plotted ways to improve his popularity at school.
…a ‘cult film for people who like to say they watch cult films’…
The struggles of Oliver Tate’s (Craig Roberts) pubescent life were devastatingly entertaining, although the superbly acted supporting cast were probably more interesting than the boy meets girl central plot. The mother (Sally Hawkins) and father (Noah Taylor) in particular were quietly monumental as Tate juggled attempts to rekindle the flame of his parents’ marriage with the pursuit of his own, curiously eczema laden love interest Jordana (Yasmin Paige).
Seaside Wales where the film was set was also looking good, if classically bleak- something in the grain of Heathcliff on the moors meets Doc Martin’s Cornish village.
However, what probably let down ‘Submarine’ slightly was its self awareness, like the people at school who purposefully wore black, straightened their hair, stopped drinking and joined the church to fit an image this film knew it wanted to be a bit off the wall. Long 8mm 1970s camera sequences, a slightly lack lustre teen romance tale and off the beat characters threatened to make Submarine a ‘cult film for people who like to say they watch cult films’. Luckily this didn’t come near ruining a largely original, honestly funny and entertaining coming of age tale that reminded me a tiny bit of myself five years ago.
Images courtesy of Sundance Film Festival 2011 and Craig Roberts