HUMAN TRAFFIC, written and directed by Justin Kerrigan, literally bursts
with raw energy. Set in the club scene in Cardiff, Wales, the movie is
filled with hypnotically pulsating music that'll have you wanting to
dance in the aisles. A funny and imaginative film, it is best thought
of as a more good-spirited version of TRAINSPOTTING. The humor, as it
was in that hugely popular film, is drug-based. HUMAN TRAFFIC
unabashedly glorifies the life of the recreational drug user. Many
viewers will have trouble enjoying the humor since they will not be able
to get beyond the film's clearly pro-drug message.
The language is true to the subjects, a bunch of kids just turned 20,
which means that a sentence without the F-word is like a day without
sunshine. Americans and those much older than the cast may have some
trouble identifying with the kids and the setting. But the director
somehow makes the film more universal than it might seem. The message
of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, after all, will certainly remind you
of the 60s.
The movie happens mainly over one long night in which the kids party.
And boy, do they party. Before the action starts we meet the
Jip (John Simm), who daydreams of himself wearing a "Mr. Softy" T-shirt,
suffers from erectile dysfunction. (Could too many drugs be a cause?
The story, not surprisingly, doesn't explore this angle.) In the
story's funniest sequence, he leads a sing-along to his own anthem. Set
to the tune of the British national anthem, the characters and the
audience follow it to a bouncing ball on the words. It's high-spirited
Koop (Shaun Parkes) is a "vinyl pusher" from a local record store. He
tells one guy that a record is hot because it was recorded by rappers on
death row. "When they get the chair, the price will go into orbit,
mon," he advises his customer.
Lulu (Lorraine Pilkington) is the film's free spirit. She brags that
she wears lipstick because she likes it. Her best friend, Nina (Nicola
Reynolds), works at a fast-food store, where the director sets a dance
number. The film's staging constantly surprises and delights.
Long portions of the story spend needless time listing the joys of a
life of drugs. Usually, but not always, these are quite humorous. One
documentary crew interviews Nina and Lulu in the club. After talking
about heroin, Lulu stops the interview. "Sorry, we've got to go," she
says, grinning. "We're late for our next hit."
Another episode has a 17-year-old, Moof (Danny Dyer), on the town to
enjoy his first night of sex and drugs. "I'm about to become a part of
the chemical generation!" he effuses.
When not pondering drugs, the film examines the difficulty of
communicating across generations. When Lulu has dinner with her
relatives, the movie includes subtitles that translate what each one
By the end, the movie has transformed itself into a nice little romance
between Jip and Lulu. The ending is as upbeat as a Fred Astaire movie.
In fact, they looked like they were going to start dancing in the rain,
but, alas, it was not to be.
HUMAN TRAFFIC runs a fast 1:39. It is rated R for pervasive drug
content, language and some strong sexuality and would be acceptable for
college students and older.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes