I confess. I had an affair with two people over the long weekend. One is Oliver Tate; he’s fifteen and he has a moptop cut that screams The Beatles in every strand. He wants to lose his virginity like most teenagers, yet he’s too profound to seek sex in vulgar ways. Then, there’s Jordana Bevan, this other fictional character. She’s a bully, a pyromaniac, and an eczema-stricken blackmailer who is Oliver’s love interest (though she hates anything sappy and romantic).
Submarine Genre: Coming-of-Age, Slice of Life, Book-to-Film Director: Richard Ayoade Year: 2010
Oliver Tate is the central character in Submarine. The film runs as his biopic, taking on his daydream of what if his life is a movie. Being a point of view of an introspective teenager, the film has a lot of monologues that drive the charm and depth of the story. Initially, the conflict lies on how he would get Jordana to like him. Soon enough, it happens but family issues arise as his mom’s marital fidelity comes into the question. Then there’s his dad and his stoic depression that might have been the trigger to his mom’s actions.
From here, the film picks up with how Oliver juggles to be the best boyfriend while saving his parents’ marriage. And to do the latter, he goes into the extent of stalking, forging suggestive love letters, house crashing, and monitoring their sex (with the help of a guiltless light dimmer).
“Problems are like top trumps. I have a pretty good card: Adulterous Mum.”
& “Depression comes in bouts. Like boxing. Dad is in the blue corner.”
Though I’m old from a sense of a teen, I still like these coming-of-age films that deal with identity, internal conflict, estrangement, heaps of monologue, and even young love with its sappy raw lines. Submarine has the same upbeat self-conscious vibe I had felt with Perks of Being a Wallflower.
There are so many things I like about Submarine. I like the meanness of Jordana. I like the abstraction of Oliver. I like how Jordana is emotionally guarded. I like how Oliver gives a damn about family. I like Mr. Tates and his “awknerdness.” I like the acid-like rainbow and Jordana’s red coat. I like the placidity of the soundtrack, especially Stuck on the Puzzle. I like how Oliver and Jordana are both misunderstood. And I like how Oliver is a romantic chap.
If you’re wondering why the film is called Submarine, my husband and I collated these plot-based reasons:
No.1 It’s because Oliver is contemplative; and just like a submarine, he submerges deep into his thoughts.
No.2 It’s a metaphor to how Oliver felt in the deep when he was overwhelmed by the problems around him.
No.3 It’s an allegory on how Oliver believes that we are all estranged from one another. Because no matter how much effort we give to understand what others think or feel, what’s going on inside them always remains a mystery. And in this way, we are all submarines that are submerged and alienated from everyone else.
— But seriously, it could be one, or none, or all.
Honestly, Submarine is quite deep. But it is deep without being a mindfuck sort of The Fountain. And aside from the fixated, occasionally morbid, and queer reasoning of the film, Submarine has practically widened my vocabulary. (I’ll remember: 1. flagitious, 2. atavistic, and 3. osculate.)
It’s been a while since I jotted words so I could look up their meanings for knowledge’s sake. With this fact alone, the film made me happy and perhaps a little bit wiser. 😉