Reggie Yates makes a simple and sweet directorial debut with this creative, funny picture of three boys and a car just trying to have the best possible millennial New Year’s Eve. Aiming to tell black stories in ways not often portrayed by mainstream media, Yates explores the teenage woes of trying to find one’s self, falling in love and maintaining relationships amidst big change. Pirates features a heist, fireworks, and even a some life-or-death shenanigans.
The filmmaker’s background in radio is clear, and he effectively incorporates that side of himself into this production: music is the heartbeat of the film. Everything begins and ends with the sounds and the songs – the story wouldn’t breathe without music. There are very few moments in the runtime that exist without some kind of musical accompaniment, from sound design as simple as every little noise smoothly coinciding with every musical beat, drop and flow of the track in the moment, to a capella renditions by the main characters as they bop along to their favourite tracks. Even the visuals borrow a lot from musical influences, the production being shot and lit like a music video, with the warm colour filters of the early 2000s recalling the likes of Nelly, Pussycat Dolls and Jennifer Lopez. The record player motif in the cinematography and editing also references radio and music: lots of close-ups, fast-forwards, playbacks and time stamps.
The three main actors are the true gems of this feature. Elliot Edusah hits the right emotional notes, playing the perfect straight man. Jordan Peters’s facial expressions set the tone for each scene; he acts as an indicator for when moments are comedic, and when it’s time to get serious. Reda Elazouar has by far the best comedic timing, with off-the-charts charisma in his delivery. Of course, the comedy is ever present and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film, but the script could have executed it better with less clichéd jokes repeated less often.
Overall, Pirates is very much worth the watch for anyone looking for a fun 80 minutes. The story itself is not too complex, allowing time and room to focus on the relationships at hand. While not free of slapstick, and still a little bit typical in terms of the jokes and lessons learned, Yates’s debut does offer new perspectives, three budding actors, and proof of the director’s fantastic potential.
Pirates is released in select cinemas on 26th September 2021.
Watch the trailer for Pirates here: