Different countries, though sharing a language, still sometimes come across as “foreign” – where the US cinema release of the Scottish-accent inflected Trainspotting was shown with English subtitles, Welsh set Submarine’s US version starts with an explanation of what Wales is.
Its soundtrack comprises of a collection of sombre yet obtuse acoustic ballads by Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, soaked in nostalgic remembrance of lost youth. The lost youth in question is Craig Robert’s Oliver Tate, unsure about his place in the universe, unsure of himself and having had “a brief hat phase”, meets similar teen outcast, Jordana. A hilariously awkward romance blooms, but this quest to lost one’s virginity is wholly unlike its American cousins.
As director Richard Ayoade’s debut feature Submarine has some rather implicit visual influences: Jean Luc Goddard, Hal Ashby and Wes Anderson are apparent, with camera movement-inspired laughs taken from Edgar Wright and Jordana’s red coat stolen from the girl in Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now.
It is the kind of cinematic magpie-work that is most associated with Tarantino but instead of spaghetti westerns and kung fu movies the inspirational sources are decidedly art-house in aesthetic and for mostly comic effect. Ayoade’s second film, The Double, continues this trend with more of a Lynch/Gilliam vibe.
Though very much a tiny detail and not the obvious point to focus a resemblance between films on, is that both Submarine and Amélie feature a moment where they imagine their own funeral. While on a base level it is a hollow similarity, it shows both protagonists’ desire to be loved, and their deep insecurity which they both deal with in different ways. Oliver, at least in narration, covers this up with false confidence.
Whereas Amélie is a moral creature, Oliver does seem to lapse to the side of wrong if its in his self-interest or is unbearably awkward. Minor compared to the impeccably hued Amélie, but Submarine has a subtle character-based colour scheme – Oliver is blue and Jordana red and as the film progresses Oliver’s chromatic tendency becomes more red in conjunction with his feelings for Jordana.