I was briefly reminded of Woody Allen during Submarine, Richard Ayoade's coming-of-age comedy, when its schoolboy hero Oliver takes the girl he's besotted with on a first date to the cinema.
The film he chooses? Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. It's like the scene in Annie Hall when Allen takes Diane Keaton to the equally high-minded and utterly undateworthy The Sorrow and the Pity. Oliver, nicely played by newcomer Craig Roberts, is an Allenish type, too, sensitive, bookish, romantically thwarted, with the difference that he lives in a Welsh coastal town and wears a very British-looking duffel coat. His determined courtship of Jordana (Yasmin Paige) is hampered, unfortunately, by trouble at home, where his mum (Sally Hawkins) may be cheating on his dad (Noah Taylor) with her ex, a flamboyant life coach named Graham (Paddy Considine).
Ayoade, adapting from Joe Dunthorne's novel, puts a spin on this teen romance by deploying filmic trickery such as zoom-outs, freeze frames and intertitles. It emulates the quirky cool of the indie romance (500) Days of Summer, with which it also shares, alas, a drastic shortage of good jokes. I'm all for a young British film-maker trying to subvert the stock traditions of boy-meets-girl, and Ayoade is clearly unafraid of experiment. But I would have traded all of its new wave dottiness and knowing whimsicality for a few spontaneous laughs.