Radio Cape Cod transmits a clear signal

British conquer Falmouth with brilliant film

June 13, 2008

This will come as a shock to megaplex mavens of ignoramus comedy, but smart is sexy.

Case in point: Radio Cape Cod, a roundelay of amours among the bright and beautiful one summer in Woods Hole. Here, the simple song repeated is the attraction of beings to each other, or, in the words of Cape essayist John Hay quoted as the film concludes, "The world begins and ends in love and unexplored affinities."

Producer-director Andrew Silver and writer Marta Rainer have crafted a – sadly – unique movie that makes maturity the proper definition of "adult" entertainment. A wonderful cast that includes several U.K. luminaries presents cases of natural selection that are moving and convincing.

Jill Waters (Tamzin Outhwaite), a broadcaster from across the pond, talks with slow-food fanatics and assorted scientists for WCAI-FM in Woods Hole. When she interviews Sunday Umanankwe (O.T. Fagbenle), a cocky researcher, they tickle each other's brain and fancy.

Meanwhile, Jill's daughter Anna (Tamzin Merchant) is developing a teen-ager's crush on Virgil Stone (Julian Silver), a boy in her performance workshop. In a nice twist, their teacher is played by screenwriter Rainer. The class serves as a mobile Greek chorus that provides chapter headings for her themes of attraction, struggle, and resolution.

The many-layered movie offers other relationships, which director Silver often shows us with two people in his frame, eschewing dewy close-ups and letting us see the bonds develop. He's ably abetted by cinematographer Michael Spindler, who understands that Cape Cod is another character in the film. Spindler's seascapes and landscapes capture the beauty too many of us take for granted.

Most of one's questions about the romances are answered by film's end, but two remain: How many of the Cape's movie houses will be smart enough to book Radio Cape Cod for a summer-long run, and how soon will this talented cast and crew come together again to make another fine film?

by Edward F. Maroney, The Barnstable Patriot