Pirates review: Reggie Yates’s debut feature is a sweet and funny romp around London

·2-min read
 (Handout)
(Handout)

The title of this sweet film is (deliberately) misleading. No swashing takes place, it’s a buckler-free zone and the only treasures plundered are three dazzling Moschino suits.

So our “pirates” are three young Londoners. Kidda and T (Reda Elazouar and Jordan Peters) use pirate radio to promote their garage group, Ice Cold Crew. It’s New Year’s Eve, 1999, and these lads reunite with their earnest pal Cappo (Elliot Edusah), now at uni and guiltily conscious that he’s outgrown his role as manager of the ICC.

The plot couldn’t be simpler. T is desperate to get tickets to a “banging” do in Vauxhall, so he can impress cute local girl Sophie (Kassius Nelson). Guess what? That plan goes a bit wiggly.

Actor, broadcaster and DJ Reggie Yates, was born in Islington and sets his directing debut close to home. Anger’s not on the menu. Pirates borrows from La Haine but, larky and unassuming, owes just as much to Superbad and even The Night Before. You don’t need to be young, or cash-strapped, to root for these chancers.

The casting is spot on, with Peters especially spry. He can do emotional confusion. He’s even better at physical comedy. A flashback in which T accidentally sets a local celeb on fire made me giggle out loud.

You don’t  need to be young or cash-strapped to root for these chancers (Handout)
You don’t need to be young or cash-strapped to root for these chancers (Handout)

The women in the cast, though they get less screen time, make themselves felt. Rebekah Murrell and Shiloh Coke (as, respectively, T’s vexed ex girlfriend and Princess, a don’t-mess-with-me cashier at a fast-food joint) are both splendid. Kidda claims, repeatedly, that there’s considerable “sexual tension” between him and Princess and the pleasant surprise is that you really can picture this juicy pair together.

The script (written by Yates) has fun with the retro time frame. Cappo’s Peugeot car, with its recalcitrant seat-belts, is quite the scene-stealer. There’s also a nice bit where T, having absorbed Cappo’s blithe reference to “Google”, gingerly tries to recycle the information and discovers that something has been lost in translation.

Clearly, Yates knows his Garage music (tracks from the likes of Sunship, DJ Zinc, So Solid Crew and Sticky keep the mood bouncy). That said, his characters aren’t music snobs. Kidda knows every word to Simply Red’s Stars.

A quibble or two: Kiddo uses the phrase “out out!” even though it hadn’t been invented in 1999, and Youssef Kerkour, as Kidda’s shouty uncle, totally gets the short straw in terms of dialogue. Pirates’ first ten minutes are painfully panto-ish. Once that hurdle’s cleared, however, hanging with this crew is plain sailing.

In cinemas now. 79mins, cert 15

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