The subject of maturing from boy to man has been covered on countless occasions in Disney style coming of age dramas. The genre is so familiar that we now have an automatic aversion to them. Submarine tries, and succeeds, in taking a fresh approach to the subject.

Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is a boy on a mission. He only wants two things. He wants his parents to re-connect  as a couple and he aims to lose his virginity before his next birthday. Oliver is a quiet boy who finds it difficult to fit in with his peers as he sees himself as an outsider, a loner if you wish. He has a lot of time on his hands that he puts to use by studying his parents habits. When the dimmer switch in his parents bedroom is turned down to half power then Oliver knows that they had an amorous encounter the night before. He records the setting  meticulously in his journal. His concerns are raised as the switch has been up high for several months and he has noticed the frosty atmosphere in the house. At the same time he catches the eye of Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige) who quickly becomes the girl he wants to move into manhood with. His attempts to get his father, Lloyd (Noah Taylor) and mother, Jill (Sally Hawkins) together are clumsy and doomed to failure. A further problem arrives  next door in the form of  Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine), an old boyfriend of Jill and now a larger than life, rock star like, motivational speaker. Oliver now has several projects on his hands and must use all his cunning and guile (as he thinks he has) to bring about a satisfactory outcome.

Submarine is the directing début from Richard Ayoade, best known for his comedic turns in The IT crowd and The Mighty Boosh. He has worked behind the camera before on several TV shows but this is an impressive jump up to the big screen. As the writer as well this is very much his vision. He has avoided going for the all out comedy and instead produced something far more interesting. It looks bleak but beautiful. The Director obviously has an eye for visuals. There are number of scenes with vast empty beaches that are shot very nicely.

The film takes it time allowing all the main characters have enough screen time to develop. The actors really use this opportunity. The young leads are both excellent, giving mature and thoughtful performances that easily carry the bulk of the film. Given the strength of the supporting cast it is surprising how memorable their acting is. Sally Hawkins as the mother is excellent. I have only recently seen a number of her films and she stands out in each one no matter how small the role. Paddy Considine is, in my opinion, one of the best actors working today. His recent move behind the camera only inflates his status for me. In this he throw himself into the sleezeball role as the motivational speaker with a really dodgy mullet.

A special mention should be made for the Soundtrack. There are five original tracks performed by Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys included. The songs compliment the visuals perfectly and add to the overall enjoyment of the film.

A very impressive film début and superb acting from all involved. Highly recommended.

John McArthur
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