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Human Traffic

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Human Traffic

Starring: John Simm, Nicola Reynolds
Director: Justin Kerrigan
Rated: R
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: May 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Lorraine Pilkington, Danny Dyer, Shaun Parkes

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

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 characters.

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 fun.

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 really means.

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

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