Thursday, 5 January 2012
After I received the 13th email request to review the film, Submarine, I took the hint. I've also taken the hint about the film, Beginners, which I promise to review soon, and which I really loved. I love that people send me these film requests as some of you have introduced me to films I would not have heard of otherwise. But I digress, back to Submarine.
I first saw Submarine in the cinema and it left me feeling underwhelmed. I saw it again on DVD recently and I was even more underwhelmed by it. This is a film I wanted to like much more than I actually did. Particularly as it's written and directed by Richard Ayoade, whom I love. It has all the ingredients I typically like in films, but it left me feeling cold, like something was missing from its inherent make-up.
I'm aware that many people loved Submarine and found it incredibly clever. And I can understand why. It's intelligent, funny in places, sweetly self-conscious and abundantly intertextual. It makes numerous visual and cinematic references to its screen predecessors. If you examine the film carefully, you'll find homages to, and direct visual "quotations" from, various films, such as The Four Hundred Blows, Harold & Maude, Amelie, Lolita and The Royal Tenenbaums. It's an extremely self-conscious film that wears its mode of postmodern pastiche on its sleeve quote obviously. While this is clever, it's not actually balanced by anything else to make it involving.
Ostensibly, all these intertextual references are supposed to feed-into the film's two main plot lines: Oliver's teenage romance with his somewhat unpleasant girlfriend, Jordana, and his plan to break-up the romance between his mother and their silly neighbour, thus saving his parents' marriage. This is all done in a quirky manner, and nothing is sentimentalised, unlike many other teenage romance films. But it was quirk without much charm for me I'm afraid. I felt like the film was overwhelmed by all the knowing references it sought to make, to the extent that it began to feel like a catalogue of the director's knowledge about films and film history.
But there's another side of me that simply doesn't understand why I didn't enjoy Submarine. There are many films that display the same sense of self-consciousness and intertextual references to other films which I love. So technically, I should have loved this film too. And since so many banal and stupid movies are made on a regular basis, I should have thoroughly appreciated a clever film such as this one. I just didn't connect with it though. I understood this film intellectually, but it didn't grab me in any other way. And for me, films that are memorable are those that move between the intellect and the heart, between the mind and instinct.
I'm really interested to hear other opinions about this film because I wonder if I'm the only one who feels this way about it. And if you'd like to convince me otherwise, I'm open to be convinced! Like I said, I really wanted to like Submarine, so maybe I missed something that others have not. Has anyone else seen it?