Reviews

Human Traffic

4

This one's for Inspector Morse. Poor, confused old Inspector Morse. In the now-infamous `Rave' episode, which saw `Young People' necking `Drugs', the Oxford copper uttered the immortal line: ""Why do they do it, Lewis? I just don't understand"." Well, detective, here's your answer, splashed on a screen 50-feet high: because it's FUN.

Breaking free of the soap-morality approach to clubbing, first-time camera-waver Justin Kerrigan (who's only 25 - - the git) has scripted a story that thankfully isn't afraid to shout this fact at the top of its merry little lungs. Kerrigan's debut involves no ODs, no heatstroke-sufferers, no kids jumping off roofs because they think they can fly and no deaths or comas. It's merely the tale of a bunch of friends who have a great night out. And that's it.

Okay, this sounds a little boring for a movie plot, but Human Traffic is far from mundane. With Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong as music supervisor, the kid Kerrigan has mixed an exhilarating cocktail of cool humour, true love and Brit-rockin' beats. This is the flipside to Trainspotting's smack-addled gutter-vision, revealing a narcotic-consuming sub-culture that isn't seedy, depraved or self-hateful. These people are normal and they have normal problems like impotence, jealousy, family and not having a ticket to get into their favourite club night...

At the heart of it all is an incredibly touching - - and believable - - love story, involving Jip (Simm) and Lulu (Pilkington), that'll have even the most convinced cynic dabbing at their tear-ducts when the feelgood climax delivers the non-cheesy goods. The rest of the plot concerns the supporting characters: vinyl junkie Koop (Parkes), who's convinced his girlfriend Nina (Reynolds) is trying to hit on every bloke she boogies near; loudmouf Londoner Moff (Dyer) who's getting nothing but grief from his well-to-do parents; teenager Lee (Davies), about to experience his first pill; and Felix (Lincoln), who thinks the whole scene has lost its way since the glorious, whistle-tooting days of the early '90s.

Kerrigan takes an episodic approach, letting the audience see what's going on inside his characters' heads - which is why we have a scene in which Moff has a chat with Reality (voiced by Jo Brand) and another in which pro-cannabis guru Howard Marks takes the pulpit to lecture the cinema on the complex nature of spliff politics. And, although the set-up is a little ropey (it takes a while to digest the talk-to-the-camera style and accept the characters' silly monickers), once you're drawn in to the sweat-soaked throng you won't want the music to fade or the lights to come up.

Given the pro-ecstasy subject matter, Human Traffic is bound to upset people and spark yet another ineffectual tabloid crusade. Which is sad, really, because it's not dangerous: it's a warm, honest and brave piece of cinema which perfectly captures the spirit of a largely misunderstood generation.

Verdict:

Packed with likable characters, hilarious dialogue and foot-stomping club anthems, Human Traffic should appeal to dance freaks and techno-sceptics alike. You can't help but love this club-hopping comedy: it's frank, it's funny, it's a full-on rush of pills, thrills and belly-laughs.

Film Details

  • 18
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: June 4th 1999
  • Genre

User Reviews

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