The story in the wry coming-of-age comedy Submarine is familiar: Precocious, 15-year-old Oliver (Craig Roberts) wants a girlfriend, and to prevent his parents' marriage from breaking up. Oliver wins over his mysterious classmate Jordana (Yasmin Paige), and struggles through adolescent cluelessness, discovery, heartbreak and casual cruelty (the two meet bullying).
Submarine is the debut feature from Richard Ayoade, a British TV actor, and adapted from Joe Dunthorne's novel. It's quirky and indie, but not annoyingly so. The film has a lightness that makes the same old scenes feel fizzy. It also has a distinct feel for time and place, shot in rainy Wales and set in the early 1980s, when teens moped around without the comfort of cable TV, computers or gadgets.
And like Oliver, Ayoade loves arty films: Submarine tips its hat to Woody Allen, the French New Wave and earlier iterations of world-weary coming-of-age stories. (Look how much Oliver resembles the moody anti-hero of Harold and Maude.)
Throughout the story, Oliver often imagines his life as a film: A series of purposefully unromantic dates with Jordana (doing nothing, setting small fires in industrial parks) are reproduced as grainy "super 8 memories." They are a parody of hackneyed cinema techniques and gorgeously sweet and effervescent all at once.
Starts Fri., Aug. 5. Melwood