The opening sequence of Submarine see its main character, Oliver (Craig Roberts), imagine his own funeral. In it, characters talk of what a great guy he was: boys wanted to be him, girls wanted to be with him. Vigils are held, placards declaring the tragedy of his loss are two a penny, and girls from his school tearfully explain how much they will miss him.
Of course it’s all pure fantasy, although we soon learn it perfectly represents Oliver’s view of his place in the world, where he is the main character in his own fascinating existential adventure.
At this point, it seems only fair I make a confession. I, like the protagonist in Submarine, have imagined my own funeral. And in my weaker moments I have also allowed myself to think about it in similar terms to Oliver.
We often wonder how other people really see us. It’s ironic that the only time people will ever spend talking about us for extended periods of time is when we’re not there to hear it. If you, like Oliver and I, have imagined your own funeral, it’s probably because it speaks to your own desire to know how you are perceived.
This idea of perception is one of the key themes behind Submarine, since it’s a film told as Oliver would have told it. He narrates it, he is the star, and yet he seems to have little control over any aspect of his life.
The film begins in this absurd, comedic world, but soon allows itself to move into much darker and hard-hitting territory. There is a sense is which Oliver’s fantastical view of his existence ceases to exist when forced to confront the realities the second half of the movie press upon him.
With Submarine, Richard Ayoade has created a very American British indie movie, with hints of Rushmore, Garden State, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a funny, melancholic film which will undoubtedly go on to become a cult favourite.