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Human Traffic (1999)


Any movie about the underground music scene is a difficult beast to master. Any meaning found in the underground is usually lost by the dumbing-down of the experience to make it ‘more accessible’ to the general public. Or the film is produced and directed by people that have about enough understanding of the subject matter that they ought to work as production assistants for VH1. Human Traffic, a new film exploring the British underground party/rave scene and the people immersed in the world of clubbing, pubbing, drugs, sex, and the beautiful, beautiful music, is an example of how it really ought to be done.

The film follows five Brits in their young twenties during a wild weekend of parties, drugs, dancing, sex, pop culture discussions, relationships, and wanking off in front of a mirror while mum interrupts. The cast of character consists of Jip (John Simm), our narrator, who has a bit of a problem with his willy, known as Mr. Floppy. Koop (Shaun Parkes), our black DJ maestro, who has insecurity issues, afraid his girlfriend Nina (Nicola Reynolds) is shagging other men. Nina herself can’t stand her McJob and longs for the freedom of the weekends. Lulu (Lorraine Pilkington), Jip’s best mate, is tired of her cheating boyfriends. And Moff (Danny Dyer) can’t seem to escape the black hole of his awful life. The film follows these five individuals during one weekend as each of them discovers love, friendship, and self-fulfillment, all against the raging party background.

Human Traffic is proof that cinema can still tell us deep stories while being visually alive, as director Justin Kerrigan’s subtle use of the camera lets the audience become part of the action. The use of direct communication to the audience by the collection of characters works well, making the viewer the subconscious mind for the characters. Dialogue is crisp and moves with an even pace, and the acting is confident. However, the two females leads tend to promote their relationships and dialogue with a bit of unneeded urgency that shows through when poignancy is needed.

Human Traffic does not try to explain the rave scene. Instead, it gives the audience the ability to listen to the people inside it, letting you choose your own convictions about this powerful musical movement that brings together strangers, friends, and lovers for one blissful night of music and peace.