Starring: Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Mike Starr
Director: Woody Allen
Running Time: 88 mins
Radio Days is an American film about the years where radio ruled the world, and how an ordinary family’s life was shaped by the wireless.
As to be expected from Woody Allen, Radio Days is steeped in nostalgia for the 1920s-30s, making it seem like the sweetest time in all history. With passionate direction from start to finish, and a pleasant story to boot, Radio Days is a film that will definitely make you smile and feel cosy, even if it’s not actually the most engrossing movie you’ve ever seen.
Let’s start with what really works about this film, Woody Allen’s direction. It’s by no means his best film, but it’s by far one of his most passionate. Crafted expertly from beginning to end with delightful production design, a warm period soundtrack, and a spot-on level of cute and cosy pleasantness that makes this film such a nice joy to watch.
Along with being a pleasant painting of the time period, there are a few interesting insights into society and culture of the 1920s and 30s. Although it doesn’t really take centre stage, the focus of the story on an ordinary family gives the film a more slice-of-life feel than many of Woody Allen’s romantic comedies, and the secondary story about the inner workings of the radio industry helps you look more into why it was such a popular medium at the time.
It’s not just Woody Allen that makes this film work, however. The performances here are pretty good throughout as well. Again, the slightly underwhelming story means there aren’t any really fleshed-out characters, but stand-out performances from Dianne Wiest and Julie Kavner that bring a degree of more impressive human emotion to proceedings, all the while playing their characters with a great sense of humour, make the film even more entertaining to watch.
The fact remains, however, that this film is a little on the thin side. Yes, it’s a lovingly crafted movie that’s full of passion and nostalgia for its time period, and that makes it good fun, but the story at hand definitely doesn’t spark the highest interest.
There are a few interesting social and historical insights as I said, but there was nothing about the individual characters in this film that really grabbed me. In truth, it feels like the characters chosen for this film are a little too ordinary, and it just doesn’t make for the most interesting watch.
Overall, I enjoyed Radio Days. Although its story isn’t particularly engrossing, good performances and great directing go a long way to making a nostalgic story about a now fading media wonderful fun and beautifully warm from start to finish, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1.