Hype isn’t an easy thing to manage, and in some cases, it can even prove to be downright deflating. That’s the biggest issue at the center of Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut, “Submarine,” which fails to live up to the impossibly high acclaim that it earned on the festival circuit. Based on the novel by Joe Dunthorne, the film tells the story of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), an eccentric teenager who becomes smitten with feisty pyromaniac Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige) and sets his mind on losing his virginity to her. But while his new love life is going just swell, Oliver’s parents have hit a rough patch in their marriage, and when he discovers that his mother (Sally Hawkins) has been fraternizing with her ex-boyfriend (Paddy Considine), a new age mystic who happens to lives next door, Oliver takes it upon himself to intervene.

A quirky coming of age tale that skews more towards drama than comedy, “Submarine” falls somewhere between the whimsy of Wes Anderson’s oeuvre and the dry cynicism of a Noah Baumbach film. That’s not to say that the movie is particularly dark or somber, but the comic moments aren’t nearly as prevalent as some would lead you to believe. What the film does do well, however, is deliver an incredibly realistic depiction of what it’s like to be a teenager in love, thanks largely to the likeable performances of Roberts and Paige. The adult actors are also really good in their respective roles, although Considine’s character lacks the depth that he had in the novel. That’s partly because writer/director Ayoade has cut out some of the book’s less important subplots, and while that makes the movie a lot more focused as a result, it comes at the cost of a few of the story’s bigger payoffs. It’s a solid debut by Ayoade regardless, who thrives from the freedom of being able to experiment with a variety of styles, but for a movie as buzzed about as this, “Submarine” really could have been better.

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