The name Richard Ellef Ayoade may not be familiar to most Americans unless they are fans of the British TV comedy The IT Crowd, but cinephiles should learn the name and how to pronounce it (eye-oh-WA-dee) because his directorial debut, the dark, coming-of-age comedy Submarine, will soon be hitting the screens and it’s likely to make a big impact. The film, which was produced by Ben Stiller, is a smart and quirky take on a familiar story as it follows a teenager, Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), as he attempts to get through high school without being beat-up or humiliated, get a girlfriend, lose his virginity, and save his parent’s relationship.
The film’s humor stems from its spot-on timing and accurate portrayal of the self-centered, anomalous realities of being a teenager but the film also balances the humor with a genuine teenage love story among the shallow, worn out adult relationships that surround it. It’s smart, witty, heartfelt, and at times downright cruel but honest and might be best compared with Wes Anderson’s Rushmore. The cinematography is as impressive as the writing as the well-composed shots often feel deserving of a museum wall. The songs, by Arctic Monkey’s front man Alex Turner, are wonderful in their own right. The characters are unique and the story is relatable even as it leans towards the eccentric at times. To sum it up in a word, one might borrow Ron Weasley’s catchphrase, “Brilliant!”