Those of us who live outside the major metropolitan areas don’t get all of the movies that the big cities get. And, if we do get them at all, they don’t last very long and they aren’t available in a whole lot of places. So when Pirate Radio was released last April, I missed it because it didn’t last long enough in the theaters for me to get to see it. So, the other day, when Netflix delivered a copy to my house, I couldn’t wait to watch it.
Pirate Radio is the US/Canadian title of The Boat that Rocked, a film written and directed by Richard Curtis, who’s also given us (among other things) Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary and one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Blackadder.
The Boat that Rocked is loosely based on the real-life offshore “pirate” radio stations broadcasting in mid-1960s Britain, where rock-n-roll music was not readily available on the airwaves. The most famous of these was “Radio Caroline,” which still broadcasts over the air, but also offers streaming audio on the Internet. A main reason I wanted to see this movie is due to the fact that the first time I visited the UK was in 1969, only a couple of years after this story takes place. During both that visit and my next one, in 1974, we mostly listened to Radio Luxembourg for popular music. Radio Luxembourg, another station that British kids often listened to in secret, is also still in business and also streams audio on the Internet. When I lived in France in the late 70s/early 80s, I still listened to Radio Luxembourg to get my “English fix” when Armed Forces Radio didn’t have anything I wanted to listen to.
Anyway, The Boat that Rocked got mediocre reviews when it came out last April, but I really enjoyed it. The music is terrific; we get the Kinks, the Stones, the Turtles, The Who, The Troggs, The Hollies, John Fred and His Playboy Band, and more. It really brings back memories of the days when, as a little girl in 1960s, I would listen to my GE transistor radio at night, trying to catch radio stations from up and down the East Coast. The film stars Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson (I think this is the only time these two have been in a movie together since their divorce) and Tom Sturridge (son of Phoebe Nicholls, who played Elizabeth Elliot in P95). Other actors I’ve seen before include Gemma Arterton (Lost in Austen), Talulah Riley (P&P05), Jack Davenport (Coupling) and Nick Frost (Kinky Boots). It’s not the greatest film I’ve ever seen, but it was a lot of fun and was definitely worth the wait.