Lindsay Anderson's If . . . (1968) set the standard for movies about rebellious teens in stuffy schools, and Richard Ayoade's tart black comedy does credit to the tradition. Here the eloquent misfit is Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a cynical wise guy whose inept horniness competes with his existential anxiety. He's bullied, of course, but that doesn't stop him from bullying others — especially if it pleases a girl, Jordana (Yasmin Paige), who's alluring despite her eczema, morbidity, and possible pyromania. Bullying aside, Oliver has a good heart, and he fears that his mother will leave his depressive dad for an old flame who teaches a self-help course involving auras. Inevitably, his love for Jordana and his dread of a broken home come in conflict. A bit contrived, maybe, but with Oliver's dryly hilarious voiceover, Ayoade's eye for whimsically profound visuals, and music by Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys, it makes more sense than it should.
94 MINUTES | KENDALL SQUARE