Metaphors are easy when they make sense.
“I don't quite know what I am yet. I've tried flipping coins, listening exclusively to french crooners, I've even had a brief hat phase but nothing stuck.”
Submarine is originally a book written by Joe Dunthorne, later turned into a film by Richard Ayoade in 2010.
It's 1986. You could say Oliver has a fairly normal life. Teen stuff, really – bullying, hero-worship, finding company in mixtapes.
However, it’s bullying to impress his classmate, Jordana.
His object of hero-worship is himself.
His mixtape is a gift from his father to help him through his teenage.
It isn’t about the gift, but about the help he needs.
She’s the unromantic pyromaniac who’d singe her lovers’ leg hair.
Her idea of romance isn’t candlelight. It’s candle flame.
“Depression comes in bouts. Like boxing. Dad is in the blue corner”
“My mother is worried I have mental problems. I found a book about teenage paranoid delusions during a routine search of my parents' bedroom.”
Thus, our hero has two primary concerns – to save a marriage and to lose his virginity before he turns 16.
Or is it?
But guitar strumming!
The soundtrack fits snugly into the rugged shores of this seaside Welsh town, complete with originals by Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys (the album, itself, is worth another post).
You could say Oliver does resemble Alex Turner.
But then I realised how this awkwardness isn’t really that. It’s the consciousness of his own narration.
“You’re the only person I would allow to be shrunk to microscopic size and explore me in a tiny submersible machine”
(Blame the weather?)
But, as colder events thaw her, you’ll realise how Oliver preferred the previous icy fire-lover more.
“She's been sensitized, turned gooey in the middle. I saw it happening and I didn't do anything to stop it. From now on, she'll be writing diaries and sometimes including little poems and she'll buy gifts for her favourite teachers and she'll admire the scenery and she'll watch the news and she'll buy soup for homeless people and she'll never burn my leg hair again.”
This is a teenage story. But not love. Not only. It’s not even the chief part.
This is one of the rare instances where you should read the book after you’ve watched the film.
Because the faces, the places, the air, the cold - they all make more sense this way.
But listen to the album first.
Submarines, I read somewhere, have trouble communicating with radiowaves, because they are deep underwater, and literally under a lot of pressure. Their different frequencies also make it difficult for them to communicate among themselves.
We’ve been told every man is an island.
Aren’t we submarines too?
Metaphors are easy.