Maybe I’ve just been living under a champagne bottle for the last year, but I had never heard of this movie until I found it last night on Netflix. Hopefully y’all haven’t seen it already, because I would like to take credit for introducing such a darkly charming YA movie to you. JUST PRETEND AND LET ME TAKE CREDIT, OK?
In this captivating coming-of-age story with an offbeat edge, 15-year-old Oliver Tate has two big ambitions: to save his parents’ marriage via carefully plotted intervention and to lose his virginity before his next birthday.
Oliver Tate is kind of a dick. But he’s a dick in the most charmingly oblivious way, i.e. he’s a 15-year-old boy. The movie begins with a letter from Oliver to the audience, and it starts with “My Dear Americans,” and includes such gems as “Wales is next to England, a country you pretend to treat as equal,” and “You have not yet invaded my country and for this I thank you.” Right away, you can tell that Oliver is funny and weird and entirely too self-aware. (At one point, he says, “I suppose it’s a bit of an affectation, but I often read the dictionary.”) He thinks of his whole life as a movie, and therefore, it is. His angsty imagination peppers the film with scenarios like The Outpouring of Sorrow Over His Untimely Death (one of his classmates carries a sign that says: WE ENVY THE ANGELS) and Super-8 style montages of him in the dizzy throes of teenage romance. Oliver desperately wants Jordana Bevan, who’s basically like Ramona Flowers except a tad meaner, to be his girlfriend, and he’s worried about his mother leaving his dad for an old flame named Graham Purvis, a psychic with the GREATEST haircut I have ever seen on film. Oliver is the best kind of underdog, because he’s wonderfully flawed and constantly confused, and I found myself rooting for him even through a number of eye rolls and “OMG DO NOT DO THAT I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU JUST DID THAT”s.
Noah Taylor as Lloyd Tate
Noah Taylor is probably the most recognizable actor (to us Americans) in this film. He plays Oliver’s quiet, awkward father, and he might be one of my favorite cinematic YA dads, ever. He’s timid and sweet; he’s really good at making mixtapes; and when he’s depressed, he sits around in a robe, drinking hot water with lemon. His speech congratulating Oliver on finally getting a girlfriend is one of the best moments of the entire film.
Paddy Considine as Graham Purvis
You also might recognize Paddy Considine, who plays Graham Purvis, the New Age-y motivational speaker that used to date Oliver’s mom (and might want to date her again). I’m now realizing that I could’ve forgone writing any text and just used pictures of Graham with his gravity-defying mullet and super sweet van to sell you on this movie because DO YOU REALLY NEED ANOTHER REASON?
Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate
Craig Roberts, the star of the film, has been in some other stuff, but the only thing I really remembered him from was Jane Eyre. No matter, because you’ll be seeing his face A TON on this site due to me casting THE SHIZZ out of him. His huge eyes are incredibly emotive, and he totally nails Oliver’s chaotic mix of hormones and heart. I mean, look at him, rocking that Beatles haircut and tie!
Don’t you just want to hug him? Or ruffle up his hair? Or at least high five him? (He seems to want you to high five him.)
Yasmin Paige as Jordana Bevan
The other new-to-me face that I’ll be casting aplenty is Yasmin Paige, who plays Jordana Bevan. When I looked her up on imdb, I noticed that she was in a TV movie called Ballet Shoes (based on the book?!) with none other than Emma Watson, and if Netflix would care to post that on streaming, I’ve already got my next Fix post covered. KTHX. Anyhoo, Yasmin is FANTASTIC as Jordana, the intimidating mean girl with a lot of drama simmering inside, and, like Oliver, I was kind of scared of her… but also really wanted her to be my friend.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Maximum of 2-3 Friends
This isn’t a party movie, but it’s not a Debbie Downer either. It’s sweet and raw and whimsical and dark, so you need to pick couch-mates who won’t make fun of it but who will gnash their teeth in frustration at Oliver with you and then admit that they still love him anyway.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Medium
If you’re too drunk, you’ll miss out on some of the quieter moments of the film, but a few glasses of wine won’t dampen your enjoyment of it. And I don’t think Graham Purvis should ever be experienced by a sober person.
Use of Your Netflix Subscription: Good
Submarine didn’t change my life, but it made for a lovely, bittersweet evening. At times, it was a little too stylized for my taste (like, “Look at my huge bag of cinematic tricks!”) but overall, I really enjoyed getting to know Oliver Tate. Some day, when he dies, I might even envy the angels.