Submarine (2010) is a film starring Craig Roberts. It’s the film adaptation of the novel Submarine by Joe Dunthorne. It was adapted and directed by Richard Ayoade. It’s available on DVD. You can rent the disc from Netflix or Facets Movies.
Fifteen-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is trying desperately to get the attention of Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige), the pretty loner girl in his class. He’ll go to every extreme, even bullying a girl (who’d incidentally been his first kiss) so badly that she has to change schools. Ultimately, it’s worth it because the next thing Oliver knows, he and Jordana are running along the derelict industrial park setting off fire crackers and committing minor arson. But things are tricky when you’re fifteen and you make a pact with your girlfriend to not show each other your emotions, especially when you’re starting to show signs of your dad’s hereditary clinical depression, your mom is allegedly sleeping with the psychic next door, and your girlfriend’s mom is going to the hospital for a brain tumor.
Submarine is not only a coming of age story but a delicate portrayal of depression, from the emotional paralysis that prevents Oliver’s dad from chasing after Oliver’s unfaithful mother or Oliver from checking up on Jordana during her mom’s operation, to the dreams of submersion. We don’t always get a full story in this film. The thread about the girl that Oliver lamented bullying never gets tied up, strengthening the memoir feel that the story is going for.
The film is written like a novel, and appropriately considering it was adapted from one. Each act of the movie is broken down by chapter titles, including “Prologue” and “Epilogue.” It’s narrated by Oliver’s voice over—sometimes rather tongue-and-cheekly as he correctly predicts that the biopic of his life won’t have the budget for a crane shot and will have to settle for a zoom out—as though the writer didn’t want to let go of the distinct voice that narrates the novel.
Purchase the book Submarine by Joe Dunthorne from Powells at this link and you’ll be helping fund Anglonerd magazine at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Speaking of the writer, the story was adapted into a film script by The IT Crowd‘s Richard Ayoade. This is also his directorial debut. There are a thousand coming-of-age fictions out there, but Submarine is certainly one of the better ones.