A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this coming-of-age dramedy based on a 2008 novel by Joe Dunthorne, which is set in Wales in the 1980s, is heavy on language (including "f--k" and "s--t") and sexual innuendo/talk; most of these characters have sex on the brain throughout the story, although there's almost no nudity. There are also some moments of bullying. Despite its playful nature, the movie actually deals with some strong issues, such as broken hearts and a couple's struggle to save a troubled marriage.
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What's the story?
In 1980s-era Wales, 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) decides that he's ready for his first girlfriend, and he carefully selects Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige) for several important qualities ... the foremost being that she'll actually speak to him. Together they embark on a turbulent relationship, heading (Oliver hopes) toward sex. At the same time, Oliver's parents (Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) have hit a rocky place in their marriage, complicated by the fact that Oliver's mother's old flame (Paddy Considine) has just moved to a house nearby. Can Oliver manage to save his parents' marriage without jeopardizing his new relationship?
Is it any good?
Submarine has a reckless feel, and it's not as careful or precious as other movies with similar themes. Richard Ayoade, an actor and a veteran of short films, TV shows, and concert videos, makes his feature directing debut here, and he probably overcompensates a bit with some flashy gimmicks -- including narration, flashbacks, fantasy sequences, slow motion, talking directly to the audience, and more.
But given the worn-out nature of the "coming-of-age" genre, the director's little tricks do help bring some life back into an otherwise familiar story. The movie ventures into some fairly brave relationship territory, ranging from sex troubles to communication woes. The terrific cast helps a great deal as well, ranging from veterans Hawkins, Taylor, and Considine to the young newcomers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie addresses teen sex. Why do you think the characters are so focused on it? Is that realistic? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding relationships.
This movie shows that relationships take lots of work. What are some of the things that the characters did wrong? What could they have done instead? What did they do right?
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