Submarine (2010) Review

October 06, 2014

Submarine (2010), directed by Richard Ayoade, tells the story of a teenage boy named Oliver Tate.

On the surface, Oliver seems to be like any other teenager who struggles with teenage issues like bullying, parental problems, and relationship matters. He is paranoid, intelligent, self-absorbed, and is struggling to find his place in this world.

However, as the film progresses, deeper and darker issues are uncovered like depression, infidelity, death and heartache. We witness the coming of age of the young protagonist as he learns about life's cold-hard truths. 
“I don't know if I've come of age, but I'm certainly older now. I feel shrunken, as if there's a tiny ancient Oliver Tate inside me operating the levers of a life-size Oliver-shaped shell. A shell on which a decrepit picture show replays the same handful of images.”

This movie is accompanied by the tunes of Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys, one of my favorite singers. The lyrics are candid and have a way of tugging heartstrings, and they are sung to a vintage melody. Certainly makes Submarine a film noir.

"You're too good for me, you're too good for anyone. "

To me, what makes a film good, or a book well-written, or a tune unforgettable, is if it is relatable, resounding my emotions or experiences. In Submarine, it felt like Richard Ayoade had reached into my memories and translated them into film.

(SPOILER!) One of such instances was when Oliver experienced his first heartbreak. The end of my first relationship found me in tears. I never knew that a heartbreak could hurt physically. I was told that I'd get over it and it wouldn't matter when I've found someone new; But as much as I wanted to look ahead into the future, the short-term pain was too distracting and demanded attention. It was like falling into the deep-end. That was what Oliver went through, where he was so upset that he wished to be excused from class because "his tiny heart is broken." He also said, "every night I come to the same place and wait till the sky catches up with my mood."

Another relatable aspect was that Oliver stores his memories by turning those "moments into the Super-8 footage of memory". Yes, I am guilty of recording memories as a motion-picture. Embarrassingly, there are times when I imagine myself as the protagonist of a film, and my life is just a badly-written script.

"Jordana and I enjoyed an atavistic, glorious fortnight of lovemakin’; humiliatin’ teachers and bullying the weak. I have already turned these moments into the Super-8 footage of memory."

Everything in Submarine is real and down-to-earth with an an honest and unabashed narration of the protagonist's life. My emotions were given a tangible form on screen. That's what made the experience of watching the film so strangely satisfying.  

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