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The Cardiff club scene in the 90's: five best friends deal with their relationships and their personal demons during a weekend. Jip calls himself a sexual paranoid, afraid he's impotent. Lulu, Jip's mate, doesn't find much to fancy in men. Nina hates her job at a fast food joint, and her man, Koop, who dreams of being a great hip-hop d.j., is prone to fits of un-provoked jealousy. The fifth is Moff, whose family is down on his behavior. Starting Friday afternoon, with preparations for clubbing, we follow the five from Ecstacy-induced fun through a booze-laden come-down early Saturday morning followed by the weekend's aftermath. It's breakthrough time for at least three of them. Written by
Justin Kerrigan - this time you've really done it. Human Traffic is going to upset the majority of film critics who will view the lack of plot, the drug induced dialogue and the futile outlook on Nineties Youth culture as a miserable and desperate view of how weekends are spent by ravers and clubheads across the UK. Moreover, they will spot camera work borrowed from Boogie Nights and even try and associate the whole film with 'Trainspotting' theme (because, lets face it, a Scottish Heroin addict trying to clean up his act and a Welsh clubber looking for a good time with his mates is pretty much the same thing, right?)
Well wrong. Human Traffic has landed - along with one and a half quality hours of clubs, drugs, pubs and parties - and its time to leave behind your preconceptions of what a film should be like (where's the plot? I want a plot!) and instead delve into the lives of Jip (John Simm) and his mates, Nina (Nicola Reynolds), Koop (Shaun Parkes), Lulu (Lorraine Pilkington) and Moff (Danny Dyer). There's nothing special about these five friends; they're just hanging out together and showing you the way they lead their lives. They are not Burger King. They certainly don't do it your way. And you don't like it - well, tough.
Because essentially this period piece has captured everything that Nineties youth culture is revolving around. There are no clear solutions, in fact very few problems in the first place. At the end of the day, what Jip and his friends are doing is living and who are we to know or comment on anything different? They drink, smoke dope, pop pills and party; they know the risks and they're prepared to take them and moralists will just have to sit back and (try to) enjoy the ride.
The sound track is terrific and accompanies the highs and lows of the 48 hour weekend and the events that take place in it. But within this, what first appears to be social unity, we see traces of individual isolation that are easy to bypass in a culture of hedonism. Jips paranoia of sex, Koops jealous possession of Nina and Moff as his drug habit digs him deeper into his own hole and further away from his family, asks the question 'are things really this good?' However they will not be exaggerated to the extent that they are conspicuous, giving the film a controversial stance on drugs and the role in social integration. Kerrigan is pulling no punches. And why should he? This isn't GO! or any other such American rave film with clear cut margins and please-the-crowd conclusions - it is one that forces us to question whilst at the same time enjoy the at times hilarious, touching and other times exciting events of 48 hours with a group of five 'friends'.
And for the die-hard British youth among you, this might not be reality - but it's a bloody brave effort at depicting it.
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