Radio On - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Radio On Reviews

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July 29, 2016
The slow pace kills this self-reflective film.
½ May 17, 2016
A radio DJ drives from London to Bristol to investigate the death of his brother. Along the way he encounters some odd people and listens to some pretty cool music. Former film critic Christopher Petit crafts a very deliberate homage to the early films of Wim Wenders (who was a producer), even using Wenders's cinematographer and actress Lisa Kreuzer (who may even be reprising her role from "Alice in the Cities"). This is a very slow and uneventful film, but if you appreciate Wenders's existential road films, you should love this one. Sting's debut role here is the best role he ever had as a fanatical Eddie Cochran fan. David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Ian Dury and Wreckless Eric are all featured on the soundtrack.
½ May 5, 2015
suitably stark and beautifully shot in brilliant black and white, Radio On is a virtual visual representation of the British music scene in the late 1970's. The plot is razor thin, and even the protagonist is a secondary character. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC.

In a movie absolutely dripping with insecurity, it seems fitting... better, poetic, that the soundtrack is the true star of the show. Bowie, Devo, Robert Fripp, The Clash, Ian Dury, Kraftwerk, and my favorite Wreckless Eric song. There's an unpolished gemstone in the form of STING playing acoustic guitar while having a conversation about nothing. With a sigh and a mustache, one of the characters says "Fuck all else to do where I come from. No jobs, no prospects." And if that's the true underlying villian of the film - listlessness- then the real hero of the film (as in life) is music. Uplifting, exciting, emotional, ceremonial, dangerous, music. It's almost a film in contradiction with itself, but that's the real beauty of it... It doesn't know what it wants to be. The film shares the plight of it's very humble narrator.

Radio On is a rare and exacting slice of life from a certain place at a certain time. It can't be recreated. It can't be revived, nor would anyone want it to be. It can only be preserved and identified with. A minor museum piece with a killer soundtrack.
½ March 2, 2015
Perhaps Christopher Petit's flawed attempt at fashioning a Wim Wenders-style road movie in Britain isn't the most auspicious debut in cinematic history. but it at least provides a lingering snapshot of the country as it was at the tail-end of the '70s: falling apart & in the midst of political & social turmoil. It starts well but the story quickly peters out - nevertheless, it looks great (in stark b&w) & the soundtrack is excellent. Disappointing but still worth a look.
½ October 31, 2014
The Wenders influence may weigh heavy, but it proves at least that the borrowing of foreign methods and perspectives is often the most useful route to finding a new way of looking at one's own country.
Super Reviewer
February 5, 2014
Minimalist to an extreme, "Radio On" is a low-budget, black-and-white film obviously informed by the ruminating works of Wim Wenders (who co-produced) and Michelangelo Antonioni. A quietly hip, late-night DJ (David Beames) hears of his brother's suicide and takes a long, slow drive to visit the scene. He encounters various people along the way (including the punk-era Sting as a singing gas-station attendant who loves Eddie Cochran) and has some aimless conversations before moving on. He meets a few women, but his character is so vacant and withdrawn that there's no question of him pursuing sex with them. This is a solitary journey.

"Radio On" has a fine period soundtrack (David Bowie, Robert Fripp, Kraftwerk, Devo, Lene Lovich, Wreckless Eric though, oddly, no Modern Lovers) and mostly serves as a mood piece. It's also a time-capsule look at a dour, depressed England. If this quintessential road movie's lack of story doesn't make you bail out in frustration, you'll finish in a satisfying, reflective state of mind. The film is also mandatory for Jim Jarmusch fans -- and bear in mind that it was released five years before "Stranger Than Paradise."
½ January 18, 2014
Some really great elements, ideas, and music, including a great little cameo by Sting. Unfortunately it failed to hold my attention by drawing out empty scenes, while the main character is a pretty dull guy compared to the people he meets.
November 21, 2013
Reflective art-house road movie which is a good excuse to play some of the trendy music of the time and give Sting his first feature film credit. You can also hear David Bowie sing in German.
½ August 20, 2013
Amazing film, of the exact type I love, a sort if wanderer making observations but barely interacting, I would happily watch a film where you simple watched from the back seat a guy drive from London to Bristol in late 70s favourite scene was the long almost still scene in the pub, playing a whole track, reminded me of what it is like to drink at a pub on your own..
February 1, 2013
Well worth seeing, especially if you grew up in the late 1970's. limited dialogue, almost no story but great atmosphere and a great soundtrack
August 23, 2012
dont know...... haven't read anything on it
September 17, 2011
I can't really explain why I liked this film; it was slow moving, had little dialogue and we didn't even find out the names of some of the characters. The atmosphere was great though - the sense of not not explaining, not knowing what was going on fitted well with Robert's search to find out what caused his brother's death - something for which clues are given in the film, but is never explained. Very good soundtrack.
½ June 28, 2011
when this came out it gave me a severe headache and I was convinced there were fleas in the cinema (the Ritzy, Brixton). But I would see it again now given a comfy sofa and some aspirin on standby
½ May 6, 2011
again an old favorite from my youth, though i suspect that it will not have aged that well. a british imitation of the early, good Wim Wenders (Stand der Dinge, namely).
Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2011
"Why do the English want to live by the sea?"

"Last resort...? (silence) It's never as good as they think it will be..."

Saw this last evening at the local arts cinema in Newcastle. And what a magnificent British art film this is; ex-Time Out film critic Christopher Petit, spurred by the twin influences of the road movies of Wim Wenders (co-producer) and the incipient post-punk scene. There are scenes, glimmers and furrows which sometimes only later come through to haunt the mind; the whole stands as a brilliantly paced and sustained aesthetic reflection of decay and despondency. The Britain of 1979 is often simultaneously beguiling and deadening; great symbolic tower-blocks on the way out of London, desolate countryside heading west... so much that you feel could give root to extensive, restlessly ruminative Iain Sinclair or Paul Morley annotation.

This film is indeed about more than 'plot', though it hangs on the path of a man who is shown going about his typical, elliptical life in London, where he seems to be a holed-up DJ for some obscure station. His 'show' is jarringly shown playing in an industrial work setting; presumably to those who cannot hear - is this use of music perhaps not so far from the choric Alan Price in "O Lucky Man!"? After a time, he begins a car journey to Bristol in search of 'answers' regarding the unexplained death of his brother; which is possibly, though never definitively, linked with a pornographic movie racket - reported in radio news bulletins - in the West Country. I could make few spoilers that would seem significant, though points do jab out at you; particularly in the sense that expected explanation or fruition occasionally seem on the cards. But, hauntingly, we are left to puzzle things out ourselves; which may well be a pointless task if one is to think in usual, lateral patterns...

The main actor does a wonderfully minimal job, as is best with this sort of project; a face that moves only a certain amount, and when needed; above all, a face that reveals itself as the blank canvas mask that we alone can choose or otherwise to feel the emotions through. He is a guide, but rightfully not one we are encouraged to easily identify with; though at times, I certainly can. The landscape, the lyrically still, gently moving camera, the haunting, 'dehumanized' pop strains of Bowie, Lovich, Kraftwerk; these phenomena bring out our responses... Or rather the cumulative effect does. It is only perhaps broken by the unnecessary interlude with Sting, which shows the man with a good deal of smugness, even back then and within this film. This is unfortunate considering it follows relatively soon after the slow jukebox tableau, the camera tapering around the pub for the whole duration of a Wreckless Eric song on the jukebox. So little happens that the mere act of one figure hitherto seated getting up and leaving the establishment takes on implausibly moving dimensions.

Surely it was not just me who was moved impossibly by the sudden move to a hauntingly wistful bucolic scene? This fairly brief shot is lit and framed magisterially, contrasting with the previous Beckettian Suicide-comedy on the cliff-top, with Kraftwerk's "Ohm Sweet Ohm" spiralling on to heights of tinpot-music box melancholia. This film marks out an approach that sadly was not taken up in British film-making more widely; it takes its time to get precisely nowhere, and yet everywhere, in comparison with so many things we call 'films'.
January 6, 2011
Just when I thought my feeling of desolation had been solidified, Sting shows up as the ghost of Eddie Cochran.
February 22, 2010
Great soundtrack, not so sure about the film itself, which is vague and frustrating at times. Still, it stands as an interesting record of the 1970s landscape
December 13, 2009
Excepting the soundtrack, which is brilliant, this really is a total load of shite. Don't feel obliged to watch it because it has punk roots. Watch the first 10 minutes for Bowie auf Deutsch then turn it off and save yourself from wasting an hour and a half of your life.
December 8, 2009
Watch it!! My cousin is in this :)
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