Submarine Review

The Film

Adolescence offers film-makers much in the way of material. Themes of taking on responsibility, experiencing transformation and the awakening of the sexual are like brightly wrapped presents around the Christmas tree of inspiration for those who work in a medium of memory and perception. Similarly the topic of just what it is that makes us move from child to adult is a universal one with quite a draw for the cinema going public.imageRichard Ayoade's début comes on the back of some directorial experience in television comedy and his own deadpan persona channelled through the characters of Moss in the IT Crowd and Dean Lerner in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. The same slight oddness of his comedy creations is replicated within the perspective of Submarine, a coming of age tale filled with characterful eccentricity and a marked detachment accented by a remarkably confident style. It is hard to not see elements of Ayoade in the outsider romance and the cerebral young lead and the overall impact of his début film is undeniably impressive.

The story is adapted from Joe Dunthorne's novel by Ayoade himself and features Oliver, a 15 year old nerd who discovers romance and the difficulties of his parents' marriage in deepest South Wales. Set indeterminately in the mid to late eighties, Oliver's father is a former Open University presenter (Noah Taylor) with fits of depression and his mother is the rather prissy neurotic Sally Hawkins who has a dalliance with the outrageous charlatan Paddy Considine. At the same time, Oliver romances bad girl Jordana by aping toughness before something more tender evolves and life lessons abound for young and old.imageAn excellent supporting cast catch the characters of these oddballs beautifully and this, along with a mature visual style, has inevitably led to comparisons with the likes of Wes Anderson. There is definitely much in the way of whimsy in the images and cutesiness could be said to be on the verge of overshadowing the story, however caricature and stereotypes never overbalance the basic humanity and genuineness of Ayoade's film. Whilst much of what is shown is familiar and in good taste, there's enough edge and peculiarity to ensure that Submarine retains its integrity.

Basically, the film succeeds because of the two young leads and the assurance of their representation by the director. They hold the centre of the action by being faithful to their awkward youth and enjoying a basic chemistry which seems sincere and sympathetic even when they are bullying or being gross to one another. The camera follows them, enjoys their performances and yearns for their happiness without making that inevitable. The style of the visuals and use of vivid blues and reds defines Submarine, and when we look around Oliver's bedroom and see two Jean Pierre Melville posters the deliberate aesthetic homage seems very likely.imageOther reviewers have mentioned Submarine in the same breath as Anderson, Truffaut, Roeg and Bill Forsyth, and I can see why the visual nods and the mature parochial style led them to those ideas. It is more important to note that Submarine is simply very effective, well observed and unbelievably assured for a début film. As funny as Ayoade has been as a comic actor, perhaps his greatest gifts will be exposed through pursuits like this one and I hope more opportunities come his way soon.

Tech specs

The strong vivid tones of the film are well reproduced via this transfer with the intoxicating blues and compelling reds of inter-titles and the main feature especially striking. Grain is healthy, detail is impressive, edges are natural and the contrast is very strong indeed. It's a shortish feature and has a file-size of about 21GB on this BD50 disc, and the frame-rate is 23.98 per second. This is a quite lovely transfer.imageThe sound options for the feature include two lossless options, a stereo LPCM track and a 5.1 master audio mix. This not being an action film or having a particularly elaborate sound design, the LPCM track may prove enough for most viewers but I preferred the coverage offered by the master audio option especially in the scenes by the beach or at Considine's lecture. The inclusion of optional English subtitles and an audio descriptive track are to be applauded.


Ayoade's lack of an appearance within the film is remedied by the extras where he makes an appearance in the both the Q&A sessions and the commentary track. Constantly dry and very jovial, Ayoade offers little light to his questioners although his company is very amusing. There is always a sense of a persona masking his real self, but it is always an entertaining persona. On the commentary track he is joined by DP Eric Wilson and the author Joe Dunthorne, and he kind of runs the show bringing the others in as he sees fit. Ayoade is terribly learned quoting other films, novels and the like and explains the Melville references along with others. It is quite earnest stuff and a tad introverted.

Considine's creation of a failed actor turned guru is given a full featurette as he revels his colour system and its ability to lead to psychological and physical success. He appears again in the extended scenes with a longer version of his audience session that is included in the film, as well as a couple of deleted scenes with Sally Hawkins as he attempts seduction. Generally, the deleted scenes are more exposition and add extra complexity to the narrative although they are still entertaining. The interviews with the cast and producers are very dull, process led and full of banal questions such as "who do you play in the film" and "are you like XXX in real life".

Test footage and a music video complete the amiable film related extras. All of the extras are in 1080P or 1080I, and three Optimum trailers begin the disc before the menu loads.


A familiar, sweet and quirky film announces a new directorial talent. Optimum arrange for a fine treatment of the film with good extras that the discerning high definition film fan should seek out

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out of 10
Category Blu-Ray Review

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