'Submarine' takes place in a world that's at once totally familiar and timeless -- you'll find hand-written notes in place of Facebook wall posts, thank you -- and slightly, delightfully bizarre. Protagonist Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is a strange young man who slumps along in his black Paddington Bear–like coat, reading the dictionary on the beach near his house in Wales, monitoring his parents' sex life based on scientific measurements of their bedroom light dimmer, wooing the rebellious firebug Jordana, and spying on his strange neighbor whom he figures for a ninja. He is, in short, Coming of Age.
Based on the book Joe Dunthorne and adapted by director Richard Ayoade, 'Submarine''s whimsy is grounded by its characters' very real concerns. Oliver is truly worried about his parents' marriage; it just so happens that the rival for his mother's affections is a New Age, wannabe guru named Graham (Paddy Considine) with an amazing mullet and a fantastically airbrushed van. Oliver's lady friend Jordana (Yasmin Paige) is stalwartly anti-romantic and enjoys burning Oliver's leg hair off, but she never tumbles over into the world of Manic Pixiedom. While she is the catalyst for Oliver's emotional maturation, she also grows and changes through the movie and is a wholly interesting character in her own right. Oliver's mother Jill (Sally Hawkins) is restless and frustrated with her mournful husband Lloyd (Noah Taylor); it's just that instead of fighting like a normal couple, she makes him watch Graham's ludicrous self-help tapes.