This week we find ourselves nostalgic for the kind of overwrought, hormonally-charged melodrama that could only be satisfied by the term “coming of age”. The Cape Breton Island Film Series provides our answer, as Submarine plunges into the deep waters of teen psychology only to discover—alas!—that coming of age has very little to do with getting anywhere.
The story/world that seems to revolve around 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is a familiar one. The smart, self-conscious young narrator bares the burden of his increasingly frustrated virginity, which he attempts to negotiate with his cool, moody girlfriend Jordana (Yasmin Paige). Add to this the dysfunction of his parents’ marriage, and we find Oliver in quite the proverbial teenage pickle.
If the story of Submarine sounds a little too Catcher-In-The-Rye, remember this: our stories are only as unique as our lives. Which is to say, we are all dirt and bones, everything is vaguely familiar, and nothing and no one is terribly special. Most of us watching the film have already figured this out, allowing for the darkly comic tone of Oliver’s tale. The story smirks, even as its narrator winces. We are in the privileged position of knowing how it ends, by knowing that it never ends. In this, infinite amusement and deep sighs of relief.
If Submarine is not meant to be unique, it is made endearing and even memorable by its specific miseries and peculiar quirks. Director Richard Ayoade, in his debut feature, presents a confident piece of cinema that explores the awkward and delicate moments of our adolescence. Whimsical and sweet, Submarine might serve to remind us of those hard lessons in life that we just keep learning. Or it might help us to forget them. It will, anyway, keep us entertained—and that, we believe, makes a story worth telling.
Submarine plays at 7pm night, at Empire Theatres Studio 10.