Next on Netflix: Submerged in reality
High school sucked for a lot of us, but in the film “Submarine,” our protagonist has it worse than most. Oliver is unpopular. His parents are drifting apart and the fact that his mother’s sleazy ex-boyfriend has moved in next door isn’t helping. He’s positive that his mom’s old flame (a new-age mystic and self-help guru) is trying to get back together with her. And the object of his affections—the sneering, sharp-tongued Jordana—seems to have only contempt for him.
In an effort to make her old boyfriend jealous, Jordana takes pictures of herself kissing Oliver, and eventually a romance blossoms between them. Though he wants to be as romantic and caring as possible, Oliver has a hard time getting to know Jordana’s personality and sometimes pushes her away.
When her mother must undergo surgery, Oliver can’t deal with the situation anymore and abandons his girlfriend instead of being there for her. Now Oliver has to try and earn her forgiveness and undo the damage caused by his carelessness, all while dealing with the growing awkwardness between his parents and the creepy mystic.
“Submarine” is definitely a dark comedy. It’s deals with serious issues like infidelity, cancer, the loss of virginity and depression. It’s a coming-of-age story that doesn’t shoehorn in an unrealistic ending where the hero suddenly becomes popular or wins back the girl with some grand, impossible gesture.
Nobody stands outside a bedroom window with a boombox in real life, and nor do they do so in “Submarine.” It captures the real disappointment of being a teenager whose life is in emotional turmoil. The ending is ambiguous, with a lot of potential for Oliver to grow, much more like real life than most teenage-love movies.
That being said, there’s definitely consistent, wry and awkward humor. From the goofy self-absorbed nature of the mystic to Oliver’s deadpan narration, there’s a lot to find amusing. It’s more of a ‘smile-and-chuckle’ story than a ‘laugh-out-loud’ one.
Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys did the movie’s soundtrack, which is one of my favorite things about it.
I’d heard the song “Stuck on the Puzzle” a long time before I actually watched “Submarine,” and I instantly fell in love with it. It’s the opening song of the movie, and the others don’t disappoint either (“Piledriver Waltz” is another favorite of mine).
Finally, be aware that the movie takes place in Wales, and some of the characters have incredibly thick Welsh accents. Subtitles sometimes help, especially when the characters speak quickly.