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Film Review: Radio Dreams is much more than Lars Ulrich appearance

Metallica’s Lars Ulrich (left) and Kabul Dreams (right) team up in Iranian film “Radio Dreams” opening on Friday. Photo by Matson Films.

The memory will remain. ‘Radio Dreams,’ is not only a whisper of a film that will be soon forgotten after its release on June 2 but rather will be remembered for what it brings to the silver screen.

The lead up to the appearance of Lars Ulrich, Metallica’s co-founder, though triumph as it was frustrating to get to this point, is not the only charm director Babak Jalai stored for his film. Through wit and a simple yet captivating plot line, ‘Radio Dreams’ proves to be a compelling and enjoyable narrative.

The film starts off with Kabul Dreams, who in reality is considered to be the first Afghani rock band, arriving in an Oakland airport on their way to a Farsi-language radio station, PARS-FM upon the request to play alongside the legendary band, Metallica.

The heart of the film relies on the main character Hamid, played by Mohsen Namjoo, who manages the programming on PARS-FM in San Francisco. Though Hamid seemingly is portrayed, at first, as a hand sanitizer obsessed and somewhat of a control freak, it becomes clear, later on, that he is merely misunderstood, especially by his staff who misinterprets his vision for PARS-FM to produce meaningful content.

The secret to Hamid is the believable and honest acting from Namjoo, appropriately deemed as “Iran’s Bob Dylan.”  Namjoo’s talent can be best felt in the scene in which Hamid, also a writer, is giving an interview due to his first book published being in English is that he is an immigrant. In this scene, he becomes frustrated with one of his interns from the radio station, who yet again does not convey his vision when translating his words from Iranian to English. Later in this interview, it becomes clear as to why Hamid is so passionate about having Metallica along with Kabul Dreams appear on PARS-FM.

Despite whether the viewers of ‘Radio Dreams,’ truly speak Iranian (although the majority of the dialogue the film is Iranian even reading the subtitles does not hinder those laughable moments) or English, the language that making dreams a reality can transcend across all audiences, but especially resonates with those who are immigrants like Hamid and Kabul Dream members Siddique Ahmed, Sulyman Qardash and Raby Adib.

In fact, whether it was focused on the band or Hamid, the film felt real to those stories told by any bands, radio producers and other hopefuls heard on social platforms today, like YouTube, who said to have moved to America on the optimistic quest to follow their influences’ footsteps of making it big.

Overall, “Radio Dreams,” is worth the hour and a half to watch. Although it is a fun little treat for Metallica fans, it also much more than the excitement for when the legendary drummer finally arrives.

“Radio Dreams” will come to the LA and SoCal area on June 9 to several Laemmle theaters.  Screenings will take place at The Ahrya Fine Arts in Beverly Hills, Town Center in Encino and Edwards Westpark 8 in Irvine. Tickets can be purchased through the Laemmle website.

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