'Submarine' Examines Teenage Boy's Coming Of Age

Jun 3, 2011
Originally published on June 6, 2011 3:51 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

Summer may be the season for big blockbusters as far as Hollywood is concerned, but smaller films can also work their way into the mix. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan says that "Submarine" is an excellent example.

KENNETH TURAN: "Submarine" is hardly the first film to explore the coming of age of a teenage boy. But this story of a 15-year-old dealing with life in a town in Wales uses wit and style to make us feel like it's never been told before.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SUBMARINE")

CRAIG ROBERTS: (As Oliver Tate) My name is Oliver Tate. I suppose it's a bit of an affectation, but sometimes I wish there was a film crew following my every move.

TURAN: That's Oliver all over, thinking more than he should.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SUBMARINE")

ROBERTS: (As Oliver Tate) I don't quite know what I am yet. I've tried flipping coins, listening exclusively to French crooners. I've even had a brief hat phase, but nothing stuck.

TURAN: Because this is a coming of age story, it's inevitable that Oliver will be passionate about a girl. Films without number have tried their hand at this, but "Submarine" is one of the best at capturing the uncapturable frenzy of adolescent infatuation. It details the awkwardness, angst and anxiety Oliver confronts in his fitful attempts to connect with Jordana.

(SOUNDBITE OF "SUBMARINE")

ROBERTS: (As Oliver Tate) Jordana Bevins is moderately unpopular.

TURAN: She's a sarcastic, chain smoking femme fatale who hates the thought of romance.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SUBMARINE")

YASMIN PAIGE: (As Jordana Bevins) Meet me under the bridge after school. We'll take it from there. Now kneel down, close your eyes.

TURAN: It's no surprise, given its subject matter, that "Submarine" is a first feature. What is a surprising is the way writer-director Richard Ayoade has injected life into a subject that's been beaten half to death. That makes this very much a debut to remember.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LOUISE KELLY: This is NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.