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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

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Akiva Gottlieb review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Greg King read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
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4.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Akiva Gottlieb
3½ stars out of 4

At a screening of "Human Traffic" in the United Kingdom, writer/director Justin Kerrigan received a compliment that states exactly why his film is successful in so many different ways. A 65-year-old man left the screening, nearly in tears, proclaiming "God! I wish I was young again!" "Human Traffic" is not a great movie, but it taps into the zeitgeist of the many young people who try their hardest to truly "live".

That these people are heavily into hallucinogenic drugs is not a subject Kerrigan shies away from. "Human Traffic" will, without a doubt, be compared to the similarly fast-paced Scottish import "Trainspotting", a film which many believe to have glamorized heroin use. "Human Traffic", which is also becoming a cult-classic in the U.K., examines "the most dominant youth culture there's ever been in Britain, bigger than the rockers, the hippies, the Mods," according to Kerrigan. This is a culture where Ecstasy (or "E") is the drug of choice. Yes, I am talking about Rave.

"Human Traffic" focuses on the lives of a cross-section of Welsh twenty-somethings who use the weekend rave parties to find meaning in their aimless lives. They spend every hour of their dead-end jobs looking forward to the pleasures that the weekend promises. This film is about such a weekend, and the pleasures are as much the viewer's as they are the characters'.

Our guide is Jip (John Simm), an energetic type who is coming to grips with the fact that he is in love with his friend Lulu (Lorraine Pilkington), and that he suffers from an acute case of "sexual paranoia". His best friend Koop (Shaun Parkes) suspects that his faithful girlfriend Nina (Nicola Reynolds) is cheating on him with numerous partners, and his buddy Moff (Danny Dyer) is always looking to have fun to rebel against an upper-class upbringing.

Without following a visible plotline, "Human Traffic" goes through the motions of a weekend in Rave culture. Late Friday night, the group heads off to a rave where they dance, take drugs, and search for the meaning of life. After the rave there is a party where they dance, take drugs and discuss how "Star Wars" is a dissection of life as a junkie. Cleverly, Kerrigan's inventive and stylish film also portrays the uncomfortable aftermath of any Rave weekend: the comedown. By showing the consequences of such a weekend, Kerrigan proves to not be glamorizing the culture, or drugs itself.

Justin Kerrigan claims that he made "Human Traffic" because this culture is the one he grew up on, and he felt qualified to make a film based on his experience. In the film, he doesn't try to make excuses for why today's youth are hooked on drugs, or paint negative stereotypes of such youth. Instead, he is trying to provide a Woody Allen-type insight into a generation that takes drugs, but doesn't resort to violence. Drugs are just a part of their weekend routine.

"Human Traffic" is hardly groundbreaking (infact, last year's "Go" and this year's upcoming "Groove" both focus on similar topics in the same culture), but it is an excellent movie because it really understands how much fun life can be. Kerrigan's characters are the type who just say "yes!". They know that mixing a bit of fantasy into their reality may be illegal, but to them, its also a risk worth taking.

Copyright 1999 Akiva Gottlieb

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