Thursday, June 23, 2011

An alienated teen narrates his own story

Sometimes I wish I'd never heard of Holden Caufield, the teen hero of J.D. Salinger's seminal novel, The Catcher in the Rye. *** Had I never read Salinger or seen movies such as Rushmore, I might have thought more highly of director Richard Ayoade's Submarine, the story of 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), the Welsh narrator of a story about (what else?) himself. *** Ayoade tries for (and sometimes succeeds at) giving his movie visual flair, but his strenuous commitment to quirkiness wore me out. *** Oliver, who seems to be growing up in the 1970s, is baffled by his parents, a depressed biologist father (Noah Taylor) and a frustrated mother (Sally Hawkins) who flirts with an old beau, a proto-New Ager played by Paddy Considine). *** Oliver also becomes involved with Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige), a classmate with a taste for arson. *** The story leads Oliver to a defining test: Can he drop his cynical pose and be available when Jordana needs more than another deadpan playmate? *** Ayoade's visual acrobatics didn't totally freshen this teen-age story for me. I kept thinking that Oliver should get back to us in maybe 10 or 15 years. Maybe then I'd be interested. Or maybe not.

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