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1 item from 2000

Film review: 'Groove'

8 June 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Serving as a handy rave primer for the trance and Ecstasy uninitiated, Greg Harrison's "Groove" is a heady slice of San Francisco's nightlife that is populated by colorful characters and a rich sense of milieu.

Harrison, a film and music-video editor who makes his directorial debut (the picture had its premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival), has a terrific eye and ear for capturing the underground subculture. He has supplied a group of likable personalities to go with the scene.

But instead of placing more trust in the very specific environment he has created or letting the body language and propulsive music do most of the talking, Harrison occasionally allows his characters to become just a little too self-analytical. The resulting babble is a drain on the film's ambient energy.

So, while not quite a rave, "Groove" nevertheless packs enough youthful grooviness to attract select-site partiers. It also establishes Harrison as a filmmaker with considerable promise.

It's certainly fun to watch rave disciple Ernie Steve Van Wormer) and his crew quickly descend upon an abandoned Bay Area warehouse and convert it into ground zero for a rave within a matter of hours.

Among those who have picked up the e-mail scent are Colin (Denny Kirkwood), who's planning a surprise for his girlfriend, Harmony (Mackenzie Firgens), and wants his tech-writer brother David (Hamish Linklater) to be there.

The straight-laced David reluctantly agrees, and he suddenly finds himself thrust into a strange new world of jungle and techno beats, not to mention an illicit alphabet soup of E, LSD and GHB.

Helping him through his Ecstasy high is Leyla (Lola Glaudini), a transplanted New Yorker who, like David, is stuck in a life rut. The two work out their obstacles as Ernie tries to convince a suspicious cop (Nick Offerman) that the noise and lasers are part of a small office party. Meanwhile, a nonstop lineup of guest DJs (including rave demigod John Digweed) ply their trade.

To be sure, Harrison has created an infectious environment, and his generally engaging cast of fresh faces, including Ari Gold as the on-duty dispensing biochemist, does much to make it accessible.

But all the navel-gazing, particularly from David and Leyla, tends to get in the way, making the movie seem like a Whit Stillman film ("The Last Days of Disco") minus the wit.

Fortunately, the soundtrack picks up much of the slack. The throbbing lineup of DJ-spun mixes will get even the most beat-resistant viewers into the groove.


Sony Pictures Classics

Director-screenwriter: Greg Harrison

Producers: Greg Harrison, Danielle Renfrew

Executive producers: Jeff Southard,

Michael Bayne

Director of photography: Matthew Irving

Editor: Greg Harrison

Music supervisor: Wade Randolph Hampton



Leyla: Lola Glaudini

David: Hamish Linklater

Colin: Denny Kirkwood

Harmony: Mackenzie Firgens

Anthony: Vince Riverside

Beth: Rachel True

Ernie: Steve Van Wormer

Sergeant: Nick Offerman

Cliff: Ari Gold

Running time -- 86 minutes

MPAA rating: R


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