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Posts Tagged ‘Paddy Considine’

Not many films this year can boast an opening as striking as that of Colm McCarthy’s The Girl With All The Gifts: we meet a young girl, Melanie (Sennia Nanua), who appears to be about twelve. She is bright, thoughtful, imaginative and friendly. So why is she being held in what seems to be a particularly grim prison? Why is she routinely placed under heavy restraint and wheeled off to a classroom where she and many other children (also strapped into their wheelchairs) receive a rather odd education? Why are the uniformed squaddies responsible for moving her about so absolutely terrified of her? What is the purpose of the peculiar tests being made by a scientist (Glenn Close) who is studying the children?

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I had the great good fortune of going to see The Girl With All The Gifts on a fairly casual basis – I had a free evening, knew this was some sort of genre movie, and so wandered along knowing very little about it. For it to prove to be one of the best SF movies of the year therefore came as a wonderful surprise, and attempting to ensure other people have the same kind of experience I had means that my ability to talk about the plot in detail is necessarily limited. If you’re the kind of person who likes SF movies, especially ones with a twist of horror, then this film should probably be on your list of things to see. But I would strongly recommend you don’t check out synopses, don’t do too much research on it, and even be very careful about the reviews that you read (even here I find myself obliged to say more than I probably should, simply in order to give the film some sort of context).

The film is part of a great tradition of apocalyptic British SF, but it most clearly owes a debt to 28 Days Later and its sequel, and the boom in a certain type of horror movie which has now been ongoing for nearly 15 years. This is not to say that The Girl With All The Gifts is simply another identikit zombie apocalypse story, but it’s certainly not afraid to take all the tropes and paraphernalia of that particular kind of story and do some new and interesting things with them. I know that some people have expressed what I suppose we must call zombie fatigue when talking about this film, and I suppose if shambling masses are not your thing then that’s fair enough, but the fact remains that the classic zombie movie bits that this film does, it does really well.

The thing is, though, that the makers of 28 Days Later were at great pains to stress that there weren’t any zombies in their movie, and the makers of this film could equally make the same claim with the same degree of honesty. The similarity doesn’t stop there, either, for in terms of imagery, sensibility, setting and theme, one could quite easily imagine a version of this film functioning as a third episode in the 28 series, albeit with a few essential rewrites.

Ultimately the film proves to be its own thing, however, although one with a debt to Danny Boyle and Alex Garland, amongst others. I detected a hint of The Day of the Triffids in its narrative DNA (though you could argue that The Day of the Triffids is the ur-text for this kind of story, as Boyle and Garland have acknowledged themselves), and a strong flavour of I Am Legend (literary rather than cinema version). What matters is that while the look of the film is that of a gritty urban horror movie, its influences are pure SF, and the story depends on a series of twists and shifts in perspective and conceptual breakthroughs that likewise are only found in true science fiction.

Similarly, while the film includes some iconic zombie imagery – hordes of figures pressed up against barbed wire, not to mention an infested shopping centre to gladden George Romero’s heart – some of its most striking sequences feature other ideas, such as the Post Office Tower festooned with alien vegetation or human survivors being stalked by… well, find out for yourselves.

The strength of the script is matched by the execution, with a strong cast all on top form. Quite apart from Close and Nennua (both excellent, with Nennua giving an astonishingly assured performance), the film is carried by Paddy Considine and Gemma Arterton, both of whom are quite as good as you could hope for – Considine’s developing relationship with Nennua as the film goes on is particularly good.

None of this would matter if the film didn’t look convincing, and thankfully it does: this is, by modern standards, a very low-budget film – it was made on one-seventh of the budget of Bridget Jones’s Baby, less than a twentieth of that of The Magnificent Seven – but it never looks it. What makes it really cinematic, in the end, is the film’s use of sound – not exactly music per se, but a strange and unsettling sound design that complements the story and its atmosphere perfectly.

The Girl With All The Gifts has done a very good job of looking like something quite generic and commercial, perhaps even to the point where it looks very much like the kind of film you’ve probably seen before. I hope this doesn’t actually harm its performance, because it repurposes everything in it to serve a distinctly original story. More than many recent movies, it uses unsettling and disturbing ideas to affect the viewer, rather than simple jump scares. It may at heart be an excellent SF movie, but it also works extremely well as a horror movie too, and if you enjoy either genre then this is a film you really shouldn’t miss.

 

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Yet another sign that winter is on the way comes in the form of someone having a crack at the Bard. On this occasion it is Justin Kurzel setting his sights on Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays yet one not much explored by film-makers since the Polanski version well over 40 years ago. Unlike many a modern go at Shakespeare, and indeed Kurosawa’s feudal Japan-set take on the story, Kurzel sticks to the original mise-en-scene, more or less.

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Quite how close to Shakespeare Kurzel keeps his movie overall is an interesting question, though. The story is the one you may already know – a witches’ prophecy lures fearless warrior Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) into contemplating the death of the liege (David Thewlis) he has always been loyal to and usurping his position, although not without some definite encouragement from his ambitious wife (Marion Cotillard), culminating in some radical new ideas in landscape gardening and a damn big fight. However, the director sets out his store for his vision of the play with the uncompromising decision to open the film with an establishing shot of a dead baby.

This initially seems a bit shocking and possibly tasteless, but it’s so much in tune with everything else going on in the film that you sort of forget about it (and it is in line with a fairly common reading of the play, that either Lady M has post-natal depression or has actually lost a child). Dead parents, dead children, death, blood, and madness: this might well be a very good place to make a joke about just why this is called the Scottish play, but I have the preservation of the Union to consider.

This is not a film which makes much effort to step lightly around such matters, nor indeed leave much to the imagination. Unlike, say, the Kurosawa version, in which most of the bloodletting occurs discreetly off-camera, here Macbeth’s assorted victims are gorily carved up on camera – when they’re not being burnt at the stake, anyway. As well as Thewlis, said victims include a not especially-recognisable Paddy Considine as Banquo and Elizabeth Debicki as Lady Macduff, with Sean Harris as Macduff, also going through the wringer somewhat before events are concluded.

So you can’t fault the casting of the supporting roles – nor is there much wrong with the two leads, which almost goes without saying where Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are concerned. For once Cotillard does not quite dominate the screen – one can almost sense the colossal struggle she is engaged in to keep her natural accent under control – but she does very good work in bringing the necessary vulnerability and pathos to a character who it’s too easy to just treat as evil incarnate.

Fassbender, however, doesn’t just give a proper movie star performance as Macbeth, but does a proper acting job as well. Macbeth isn’t just a crazed tyrant in this film: he’s a man who can’t quite bring himself to accept the consequences of his actions, and as a result has to treat everything going on around him as a bit of a joke. Fassbender makes his bonkers joviality rather disturbing to watch, but also offers flashes of the man in torment within. He’s not what you’d call sympathetic, exactly, but neither is he a complete monster.

Neither of these are exactly radical interpretations of the main characters, but then on one level this is not the boldest or most innovative take on Macbeth, either. The film offers a few interesting choices of staging – the witches are so utterly down-to-earth, almost mundane in their presentation, that one is almost surprised when Macbeth and Banquo give them a second look, while to its credit the film does find a new and unusual way for Birnham Forest to come to Dunsinane at the climax. But on the whole it’s a very orthodox presentation of the play, for all its savagery and darkness.

However, as a piece of film, Macbeth manages to be extremely distinctive – in many ways this looks pretty much like you’d expect a lowish-budget art house adaptation of Shakespeare to, with dour, naturalistic cinematography, what look suspiciously like non-professional actors in some of the minor roles, and strange wild stabs of what I can only call visual pretension – battle scenes keep slipping into slo-mo, vivid filters make it look as though the air itself is turning to blood, and so on. Overall, though, the thing comes together to be a singular and coherent vision that feels entirely appropriate for his particular play.

But is it a completely successful one? The generally-positive reviews Macbeth has received suggests so, but I found it to be a tough film to engage with – it’s just so relentlessly bleak and doom-laden, with most of the directorial and dramatic pyrotechnics held back for the final act. A little less fidelity to Shakespeare earlier on might have a resulted in a more balanced offering. As it is, the film becomes increasingly more impressive as it goes on, and it’s certainly well-worth watching, but it never consistently feels like a movie in its own right, just an extremely accomplished adaptation of a well-staged play.

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Yet another new Vue this week, readers: I know, I know. I was all set to check out the Everyman on Baker Street, but then I had a couple of hours to spare, wandered over to Leicester Square, and found out that if I just spent the afternoon there I could enjoy a couple of new movies and a tasty Mexican-inflected burger-based meal. The only downside was that one of the movies had to be at the Leicester Square Vue, but there you go. This does at least seem to be as nice as any other Vue (which is to say, quite nice in most respects), and Leicester Square is a fun place to go to the cinema. I note that weird, costume-wearing Frenchies have already started queueing to see The Lone Ranger, a film so blatantly and painfully misconceived that it’s currently 50-50 as to whether I go to see it at all (and this is from someone who paid to watch Battleship and After Earth). Hey ho.

Anyway, the film I saw at the Leicester Square Vue was Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, his latest re-teaming with writer and star Simon Pegg (not to mention co-star Nick Frost). To briefly recap, after making an name for themselves in TV, these boys scored a bit of a hit with the 2004 zombie romantic comedy Shaun of the Dead – still pretty much the gold standard when it comes to funny zombie films – and also did rather well with the 2007 comedy action pastiche Hot Fuzz (a film I personally find somewhat less accomplished, but still bags of fun). Then Pegg and Frost went off to make Paul with someone else, a film which did quite well though it wasn’t particularly great, and Wright went off and made Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, a film which didn’t do very well even though it was quite good.

Now here they are again, with what’s being advertised as the final instalment of a trilogy – helps with the marketing, I suppose, because in terms of story the three films are completely separate, not even taking place in the same genre.

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This time round Pegg plays Gary King, a highly dubious and unreliable character, who at the start of the film is intent on reuniting the gang of his teenage years. Frost plays his best friend Andy, while comprising the rest of the crew are Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Martin Freeman. Many years ago this bunch set out to complete an epic pub crawl in their home town, but failed: now Gary is insisting they give it another try.

However, the freewheeling teenagers of decades before have grown up to be lawyers, estate agents, and so on, and even getting everyone back together is a challenge. Slowly the realisation dawns that Gary himself hasn’t appreciably grown up at all, and the question of exactly what his motivation for this reunion is becomes increasingly pressing.

Several pubs into the crawl, of course, things take a rather different and unexpected turn, as does the tone of the film. This does rather come out of nowhere, if you haven’t seen the trailer anyway, but suffice to say that, as usual, what started as a comedy turns into a different sort of genre movie entirely…

I seem to recall being instinctively well-disposed towards Shaun of the Dead when it came out in 2004, mainly because I’d met Simon Pegg the year before and he turned out to be one of the good guys. (Pegg’s rise to something approaching bona fide moviestardom since then has been gratifying.) I find myself equally inclined to say nice things about The World’s End, but again I am unsure whether this is simply due to the quality of the film, or the fact it seems precision-aimed at me as its target audience.

Because this is essentially a film about looking down the barrel of forty, realising your youth is all but over, and coming to terms with the fact that the past is past. All the characters have done this except Gary, and the emotional arc of the film is about how this affects their relationships. There is inevitably a good deal of nostalgia for the late 80s and early 90s, which is reflected in one of the most evocative and memorable soundtracks I can recall: Blur, the Stone Roses, the Soup Dragons, Suede, they are all here.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this story winds up hitting a few emotional notes you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in a mainstream comedy film, but I found this just made the film more engaging. Certainly, I went to see The World’s End looking forward to the genre element of the story, but found myself enjoying the character-based comedy-drama much more. In addition to sharp and witty dialogue, there is also some well-executed slapstick and a brilliant gag about the plague of homogenous gastro-ification sweeping British pubs.

This is not to say that the other stuff is by any means bad, of course: it’s smartly written and immaculately assembled, with some superbly inventive action choreography along the way (even if the unarmed combat skills displayed by virtually every character seem a little implausible). But by the climax, one almost gets a sense of the film itself having had a couple of pints too many – things become just a touch out of control and silly, though not enough to spoil proceedings. (It’s definitely a stretch to claim the film is on some level an homage to Wyndham or Youd, as some publicity materials are claiming.) The conclusion, though fairly logical, seemed to me to be distinctly odd and tonally rather at odds with the way the rest of the film had been going.

Nevertheless, this is still a quality piece of work, as you would expect from the assembled talent involved in making it. Given the A-Team of actors involved, the only real surprise is Nick Frost’s continued ability to steal scenes apparently without effort. Doing that when you’re sharing the frame with Simon Pegg, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman (often all at the same time) is a really remarkable talent. Frost might also want to consider branching out into action movies: he shows considerable potential in this department. Rosamund Pike and Pierce Brosnan also pop up in key roles: there’s something weird about the fact that not much more than a decade ago it was perfectly okay for the two of them to get it on in a movie, but now he’s being cast as her former schoolteacher. Typically strange cinema attitudes to ageing, I suppose.

The World’s End is very much of a piece with the two other Wright/Pegg/Frost films in the way it combines comedy-drama with genre pastiche, but it isn’t afraid to try some new things – the roles played by the two leads are effectively reversed, while there’s less of a focus on their relationship and more of an ensemble feel to the film. For the most part, this works, and if this really does turn out to be the last time these three work together, they are concluding their relationship on a high. The World’s End is consistently very funny, frequently moving, and often rather exciting. A great piece of intelligent entertainment, and one of the best films of the summer so far.

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I very nearly didn’t go to see Paddy Considine’s new film. This is not out of any distaste for the man himself – Considine is part of that tradition of unshakably reliable actors who seem, quite simply, utterly incapable of not giving a brilliant performance, with an enviable track record in both independent and mainstream film. Anything written and directed by him is, you would rightly think, well-worth looking at. The issue is simply that the film is called Tyrannosaur.

I love dinosaurs. I love films. It therefore goes without saying that I love dinosaur films, and Tyrannosaur is a brilliant name for a dinosaur film. Imagine the bone-crunching, flesh-tearing, lawyer-gobbling possibilities (and the equal possibilities for more taxonomically exotic follow-up projects like Gorgosaur, Tarbosaur, or Albertosaur). But no. There are no theropod predators, or indeed dinosaurs of any kind, in Considine’s movie, and thus a great movie title looks very much like it’s been squandered quite unnecessarily. (Considine has said he considered changing the name of the film simply to avoid it being taken for something following in the wake of Jurassic Park.) Nevertheless I decided this was possibly a slightly petty reason to boycott a film boasting an impressive array of talent and provisionally forgave him.    

Peter Mullan, an actor whose name is unlikely ever to appear in close proximity to the words ‘reassuring screen presence’, plays Joseph, a man on the fringes of society, who seems capable of expressing himself solely through acts of violence, either physical or verbal. He exists in a permanent state of inarticulate rage, for reasons that are not initially clear. But Joseph seems aware that he is on the edge and almost appears to be groping for a way out.

After one of his outbursts he takes refuge in a charity shop run by Hannah (Olivia Colman), an apparently comfortable, middle class woman from an affluent estate. A devout Christian, she senses Joseph’s problems almost at once and tries to help him as best she can. He responds, of course, by savagely ridiculing her and her faith. But an odd bond has been forged between the two which will prove crucial in the days to come.

For Hannah is as troubled as Joseph, in her own way – her husband (Eddie Marsan) is a manipulative, possessive sadist who mistreats her horribly and is slowly driving her towards alcoholism, and she seems unable to stand up to him or assert herself in any way. and for the rest of the film the three characters slowly orbit around one another, united by their various frailties, miseries and need for help.

Happy happy joy time? I think not (or as the director recently observed, ‘this isn’t the kind of project where you want method actors’). As you can probably tell, this is a film which sits in the grand tradition of low-budget British social miserabilism, and while parts of it are almost unwatchably brutal and grim, that doesn’t stop it being a very accomplished film and far from merely an exercise in depressing the audience.

On the other hand, this isn’t the kind of film which sets out to uplift or necessarily even entertain – but it does offer an acutely observed and very honest depiction of human beings in extreme situations. As such it stands or falls by the performances of the actors, and everyone here is superb. Mullan is initially absolutely terrifying (as I commented at the time, Mullan even managed to be properly scary in one of the generally anodyne Harry Potter movies) before full depth of his character becomes apparent, at which point he becomes a deeply affecting if not entirely sympathetic figure. Colman is also excellent – one of the strengths of her performance, and indeed the film, is how non-judgmental it is – is her faith the crutch and solace it seems to be? Or does it simply stop her from fighting back against her persecutors, and is thus ultimately the source of all her troubles? As I said, the film refuses to offer easy answers. In the same vein, it doesn’t provide the audience with the moments of expected catharsis, either, or any kind of quick emotional pay-off.

Much as I appreciated Tyrannosaur and found it an utterly engrossing and moving film, I would be lying if I said I wanted to see a film of this kind appearing in my local cinema every week – it’s too dark and strong a flavour to be a regular part of my diet. But it would be an enormous loss if films like this were never made at all (just as it would be a loss if Paddy Considine stopped acting altogether and concentrated on his directorial career). Hopefully a solution can be found where a properly mixed diet of movies can be assured, and Considine can continue with both tracks of his career – because on this evidence, his talent as a director is every bit as impressive as that as an actor.

(But next time, Paddy, would it kill you to include one little deinonychus? Go on, just for me.)

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Courtesy of a minor coincidence, two action movies set in modern London have got a release in consecutive weekends – but while Attack the Block perturbed some critics (including your correspondent) with its ambivalence towards young criminals, Elliot Lester’s Blitz takes a slightly more straightforward approach: three of them get a damn good hiding with a hockey stick before the opening credits even roll.

Then again, this is no more than one would expect from a movie which is essentially a vehicle for the underappreciated British action star Jason Statham, who wields the sporting implement in question. In this outing Statham gives us his portrayal of wild-man South London copper Brant, who in real life would be a figure of urban nightmare: a brutal, uncontrollable thug, only partially redeemed by the fact his heart seems to be in roughly the right place. He prefers beating up juvenile offenders to arresting them. He conducts his interviews down the local boozer. He bullies the service psychiatrist into certifying him fit for duty, even when he is self-evidently a violent sociopath. (It says something for Statham’s considerable charisma that Brant – just! – remains a likable anti-hero for most of the movie.)

However, Brant is in for a shock as a previous recipient of one of his exercises in community policing has emerged from hospital with something of a chip on his shoulder, and sets out on a cop-killing spree. Shocked by the deaths of their own, the top brass of the police install thoughtful by-the-book-ish detective – implausible name alert! – Porter Nash (Paddy Considine) to handle the case and stop the murderer, who’s taken to calling himself ‘the Blitz’, and to this end Brant and Nash forge an uneasy alliance…

Well, if you’re anything like me, the news that Jason Statham and Paddy Considine are in the same film will have provoked bemusement and confusion – I was sitting there during the trailer for Blitz thinking ‘Statham? Considine? Together?!?? Isn’t there a law against things like that…?’ Still, the pairing promised something a bit different from the usual fare either of them turn up in, and the presence elsewhere in the cast of people like David Morrissey and Aiden Gillen suggested this could be an intelligent and gripping movie.

Sadly, I must warn you not to be fooled, as this is very much a Jason Statham movie – and a particularly savage one at that – in which Considine and the others occasionally make an appearance. Normally, I am an enormous fan of Jason Statham’s body of work, whether it be when he’s in steely martial-artist mode in the Transporter franchise, or doing his berserk psycho turn in the Cranks, but Blitz is not, to be perfectly honest, one of his better outings.

It’s a much darker and more realistic movie than most, with considerably less action: it’s over an hour into the movie before Statham gets to chase anyone around, he never takes his shirt off, and he doesn’t end up fighting a dozen people simultaneously in a garage either. This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course, as it does focus your attention on Jason Statham’s performance – which, as usual, is perfectly fit-for-purpose – but it does mean the film has to rely on things like script and direction in order to succeed.

This is really where Blitz’s problems lie. The ‘rogue cop vs psycho killer’ plot inevitably recalls Dirty Harry, but Blitz isn’t remotely in the same class. Much of the dialogue is very perfunctory and clichéd, and the story itself is flabby, with a lengthy subplot about a female copper (Zawe Ashton) with a drug problem. Ashton’s performance is great, but it has virtually nothing to do with the main plot and drains tension from it as a result. Sensational details are dropped in, purely for effect (Considine’s character is gay, but other than allowing Statham to crack some bracingly non-PC jokes this has no bearing on anything that happens). Worst of all, the story is riddled with improbable coincidences and glaring holes – there were numerous moments where I found myself thinking, ‘Hang on a minute, why don’t they just…?’ The film didn’t do enough to earn the right to make those sorts of demands on my credibility.

And, in the end, the climax – such as it is – is unsatisfying on all sorts of levels. Earlier on, two main characters have a conversation which appears to reveal which way the story is going to go. It doesn’t go this way. It goes exactly the way the conversation indicated it wouldn’t, and this is supposed to constitute a clever narrative twist. The film-makers may call this playing with expectations, but I call it cheating.

In retrospect, the substance of the final scenes – obviously the need to avoid spoilers prevents me from going into too much detail – is very much in keeping with the whole tone of the movie, but they still left me feeling somewhat uneasy. Blitz sets out to depict a world with a bleak and ambiguous morality – and a horribly grimy world it is too – but the climax seems to show Statham and Considine yielding to this, and accepting that they can’t hope to impose anything better upon it. We could probably argue at length about whether or not this is realistic, but I don’t go to the cinema to see that kind of defeatist realism, I’m afraid, and as a result the whole film left a bad taste in my mouth.

Blitz is a fairly competent film with some significant talent involved, and an attempt at exactly the kind of commercial entertainment that should be the lifeblood of any domestic movie industry, and I would really have liked it to be a commercial and creative success (quite why it’s been released when Norse thunder-gods and OTT pirates are hoovering up the bulk of audiences is a mystery – I suspect a real-life cop-killing spree in the UK may have forced a delay in the release date). But, performances aside, it’s just not quite good enough in any department to really be anything memorable.

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It may well be the case that, with the benefit of hindsight, the comedy output of the UK network Channel 4 in the late 90s and early 2000s will be recognised as an extraordinary hothouse for cinematic talent. The success of Simon Pegg, Ricky Gervais and their associates – by far the majority of whom rose to fame on Four in that period – is ongoing and impressive. Joe Cornish, one of the creators of The Adam and Joe Show, has recently completed Attack the Block, an SF thriller that already has a tremendous buzz about it. And, perhaps most startling of all, Richard Ayoade has written and directed Submarine, one of the most distinctive and impressive movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Ayoade, to me at least, is most familiar as geek extraordinaire Moss from The IT Crowd and Dean Learner from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. Submarine is not remotely like either of these programmes, being a coming-of-age story – a combination of drama and jet-black comedy that’s tonally somewhere between Donnie Darko, Gregory’s Girl, and Napoleon Dynamite.

Craig Roberts plays Oliver, a teenager growing up in a town on the Welsh coast, at some point in a deliberately indeterminate past (pedants will have a field day). Oliver’s father (Noah Taylor) is a marine biologist and failed Open University presenter, while his mother (Sally Hawkins) has an unrewarding office job. Despite his massive gaucheness and general inability to recognise basic emotional truths, Oliver’s attempts to impress eczema-prone temptress Jordana (a revelatory Yasmin Paige) are actually successful, and the two embark on a relationship which they agree is strictly to be non-romantic and unsentimental. But Oliver’s attention is distracted from his girlfriend: his parents are having a tough time, and things are not helped by the appearance of an old flame from his mother’s past: leather-trousered psychic guru Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine)…

What Submarine captures brilliantly is that moment in life when you have – to all intents and purposes – mature faculties, and the capacity for adult emotions, but a complete lack of the life-experience necessary to let you cope with them. It’s about attempting to be a grown-up, and then completely cocking it up. I found so much of it to be almost painfully familiar from my own adolescence: Ayoade’s script captures the awkwardness, the casual, unthinking cruelty, the moments of irresistible emotion, and above all the monumental self-absorption of being a teenager.

One of the things about being in your teens is that every single experience can feel like something epic and life-changing and utterly central to your being, when (of course) it’s almost always nothing of the sort. Submarine manages to communicate this, telling what’s ultimately a rather banal story with such style and confidence and wit that it does seem to be of much greater import than it probably is. This makes the film rather difficult to review effectively, but still.

What could have been a fairly cosy and nostalgic comedy is lifted to another level entirely by Richard Ayoade’s command of the camera and some beautiful cinematography. And this absolutely isn’t a cosy film, although I did laugh out loud throughout it. The humour is distinctly strange and very dark – one moment sees Oliver, with the authentically twisted logic of a teenager, deciding to help Jordana cope with a chronic illness in her family by poisoning her dog – and the whole thing is ruthlessly underplayed by the entire cast. Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige essentially carry the film and deliver a couple of – if there’s any justice – star-making performances. (I spent most of the film wondering why Paige seemed vaguely familiar before seeing her name in the credits and realising I had seven hours of her on DVD already – she’s almost unrecognisable from her stint in Sarah Jane.)

I suppose if I had to make criticisms of Submarine, it would be that the film tarries just little too long in its closing stages, that at times its confidence and style come very close to becoming outright smug pretentiousness, and that there isn’t quite enough Paddy Considine in it. But this is to quibble: Submarine is quite possibly my favourite film of the year so far, and it’s practically a scandal that in some parts of the UK it’s only on the art house circuit. Richard Ayoade has made a film with a genuinely cinematic vision, that manages to be, superficially, completely restrained, and yet at the same time deeply moving as well as very funny.  Highly recommended.

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