This week, Chris Sullivan gets two surprise treats in the form of Richard Ayoade's excellent coming-of-age comedy/drama, Submarine, and Ben Affleck's great crime caper, The Town...
This evening, I slipped off to catch Submarine, the quite excellent debut feature from writer/director/actor Richard Ayoade who, among other things, has appeared in The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd. Also a notable director of pop promos, he has helmed music videos for The Arctic Monkeys, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Super Furry Animals, Kasabian, the Last Shadow Puppets and Vampire Weekend to great effect.
Based on Swansea-born Joe Dunthorne’s 2008 novel, the film follows and is narrated by Oliver Tate (superbly played by Craig Roberts), a 15-year-old growing up in Wales who believes himself to be a literary genius but is in fact an awkward dork who reads dictionaries, Catcher In The Rye and Nietzsche (is there anyone over 18 who reads Nietzsche?), is regularly bullied and wears a duffle coat. To add to his woes, dad Lloyd (a great performance from Noah Taylor) is a 100-pound, bearded, manic-depressive marine biologist, while his neurotic and twee mum (brilliantly rendered by Sally Hawkins) looks like a suspect out of Midsomer Murders.
"Oliver tries to sabotage the affair by breaking into Graham’s home and pissing on his duvet."
The plot revolves around our hero's attempts to shag his rather cool - yet twisted - girlfriend, Jordana (Yasmin Paige), while Oliver’s mum is having an affair with her ex, Graham (Paddy Considine in fine fetter) a leather-trousered life guru who has just moved in next door. Consequently, his dad turns to drinking Lemsip from a dirty cup and Oliver tries to sabotage the affair by breaking into Graham’s home and pissing on his duvet before setting it on fire.
At times downright hilarious and always insightful, the film hits the nail on the head from start to finish, is genuinely inventive without being flash and features brilliant performances throughout. Some have compared the film to Wes Anderson’s Rushmore but Ayoade's film is far funnier, better scripted and a less self-conscious - all in all, it’s an extremely impressive debut.
The Town refers to Charlestown, a tough, predominantly Irish Boston neighbourhood that, as the opening credits reveal, has spawned more bank robbers and car thieves than any place on Earth. Indeed, failed ice hockey player Doug MacRay (Affleck) is the brains behind such a crew of brigands who specialise in armoured car and bank heists while the excellent Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) plays his psychopathic, coke-fuelled nutbag chum James Coughlin.
The film opens with the gang robbing a bank and kidnapping the manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), leaving the FBI - led by Agent Frawley (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm) - without a clue. Consequently, MacRay stalks Keesey in order to ascertain whether she can finger the gang and he slowly falls for her, while James gets more trigger happy and Frawley closes in.
In short, this is a stunning film featuring a great cast (including real-life former Boston cons and cops alongside the likes of the late great Pete Posthlewaite, Chris Cooper and Blake Lively), a superb score from Harry Gregson-Williams and cracking cinematography from Robert Elswit. Rather exhausted, I popped it into the DVD player at 1am thinking I'd have a quick look and was still there at the closing credits two hours later - high praise indeed!
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