'Submarine' Examines Teenage Boy's Coming Of Age

In Hollywood, now is the time summer blockbusters start being released. But some good smaller films work their way into the mix too. The coming of age story, Submarine, may be one of the best.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

Summer may be the season for big blockbusters as far as Hollywood is concerned, but smaller films can also work their way into the mix. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan says that "Submarine" is an excellent example.

KENNETH TURAN: "Submarine" is hardly the first film to explore the coming of age of a teenage boy. But this story of a 15-year-old dealing with life in a town in Wales uses wit and style to make us feel like it's never been told before.

(Soundbite of movie, "Submarine")

Mr. CRAIG ROBERTS (Actor): (As Oliver Tate) My name is Oliver Tate. I suppose it's a bit of an affectation, but sometimes I wish there was a film crew following my every move.

TURAN: That's Oliver all over, thinking more than he should.

(Soundbite of movie, "Submarine")

Mr. ROBERTS: (As Oliver Tate) I don't quite know what I am yet. I've tried flipping coins, listening exclusively to French crooners. I've even had a brief hat phase, but nothing stuck.

TURAN: Because this is a coming of age story, it's inevitable that Oliver will be passionate about a girl. Films without number have tried their hand at this, but "Submarine" is one of the best at capturing the uncapturable frenzy of adolescent infatuation. It details the awkwardness, angst and anxiety Oliver confronts in his fitful attempts to connect with Jordana.

(Soundbite of "Submarine")

Mr. ROBERTS: (As Oliver Tate) Jordana Bevins is moderately unpopular.

TURAN: She's a sarcastic, chain smoking femme fatale who hates the thought of romance.

(Soundbite of movie, "Submarine")

Ms. YASMIN PAIGE (Actor): (As Jordana Bevins) Meet me under the bridge after school. We'll take it from there. Now kneel down, close your eyes.

TURAN: Difficult parents are also standard for the genre, but it's rare to have actors as gifted as Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor in the parts. Their big problem is that Oliver's mother's old beau, now transformed into a New Age life coach, has moved in next door. Oliver feels this is a challenge to the marriage he cannot ignore, even if it means monitoring his parents' sex life.

It's no surprise, given its subject matter, that "Submarine" is a first feature. What is a surprising is the way writer-director Richard Ayoade has injected life into a subject that's been beaten half to death. That makes this very much a debut to remember.

(Soundbite of music)

KELLY: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for Morning Edition and the Los Angeles Times.

(Soundbite of music)

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