Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Radio Heimat (4 Stars)

The film takes place in 1983 in Bochum, arguably the ugliest town in Germany. In the opening minutes a narrator makes fun of the people who actually like the town. You have to be crazy.

The four friends Frank (the film's narrator), Spüli, Mücke and Pommes have three things in common. They're 16. They go to the same school. They've never had a girlfriend.

It's not that they're shy. They just don't know how to go about it. They look at their parents who're old-fashioned and unattractive, like all parents, and if they managed to find partners it can't be all that difficult. Can it? When they hear that most of the girls in their school are taking dance lessons they join the same dance school. This gives them a chance to touch girls, on the dance floor at least, but they're no closer to getting into a relationship. The problem isn't made easier by all four boys wanting the same girl, Carola. There isn't enough of her to go round.

"Radio Heimat" is based on the autobiography of the German comedian Frank Goosen. He's from Bochum, of course, so he's allowed to make fun of the place. The film is hilarious, most of the humour arising from the comments of the narrator rather than from the action itself. It's similar to the coming-of-age comedies that were common in America in the 1980's, but not quite as ridiculous or overtly sexual. This is a true story, don't forget.

I can relate to the film because I fondly remember the days when I was 16 and had never had a girlfriend. Those were days when I was suffering, like the boys in the film, but looking back on the time it wasn't so bad. I could have enjoyed it more if I'd known then what I know now. I moved on too fast. I got my first girlfriend, Mandy Stickland, when I was sixteen and a half. The relationship only lasted a few months, but it gave me the start I needed. I had a large number of girlfriends after her in quick succession, all short relationships, so many girls that my school friends were jealous of me. I should have waited a few years. Or better still, I should never have dated. Being single has the advantage of helping a man idealise women. I find that being friends with a woman in a flirty but still platonic way is more fulfilling than having a full blown relationship.

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