Weekly Watch: ‘Submarine’
Erin McAuliffe | Wednesday, September 10, 2014
“Submarine” was Richard Ayoade’s debut as a film director. He previously had acted and directed music videos for Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys — a connection he used for the film. Appropriately enough, Alex Turner, lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys, created the soundtrack for the film. The music adds to the melancholy undertones of the film; the unique tracks contribute to the identity of the film.
The movie stars Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate, a 15-year-old who wishes there was a film crew following his every move and acts in an accordingly melodramatic manner. His fixation with theatrics is redolent of Max Fischer’s flair for playwriting in “Rushmore” and one of the many similar themes and stylistic choices Ayoade shares with Wes Anderson, who directed “Rushmore.”
Tate fantasizes his own death, wondering what would happen if he committed suicide. This concept rouses memories of Harold’s obsession with death in “Harold and Maude.”
Oliver Tate has two priorities in the film: keeping Jordana, his brunette-bobbed girlfriend with pyromaniac tendencies, interested in him and attempting to spark his parents’ fading love interest.
Tate’s relationship with Jordana begins with her asking him to meet up with her secretly, a meeting which ends up involving her taking Polaroid pictures of them kissing to make her ex-boyfriend jealous. The act succeeds, and Jordana’s ex-beau beats up Tate at school, an event that somehow manages to bring him and Jordana together.
Tate monitors his parents’ relationship by the dimmer switch in their bedroom, which is, to his discontent, nearly always at full brightness. His marine biologist dad suffers from depression. His mom starts to take an interest in their neighbor, Graham Purvis, an old flame of hers who has a bewildering career as a New Age motivational speaker and an even more baffling mullet Mohawk.
“Submarine” is darkly humorous, featuring loads of situational irony and absurd concepts. It is available to stream on Netflix, and you should be sure to do watch it this week to form your own opinions before reading mine on Monday.