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Human Traffic (1999)
Preaching to the converted
A group of friends share a weekend of clubbing in Cardiff. It's an article of faith that a conversation while on drugs can feel like an epoch-defining moment at the time, but aimless cobblers in the cold light of morning. So it is with `Human Traffic'. This celebration of UK clubland makes pleasant moving wallpaper getting ready to go out, or at 4 am when you pay off the taxi driver and collapse in front of the video, but fails to engage a non-partisan audience.
The film is a tragic case study in why so many UK films never see projection on a cinema screen. The producers and the various clubland stars who appear are so convinced of their own cool that they feel safe to dispense with hoary notions like plot, character development or a coherent central idea. It's like watching the first ten minutes of another film, sampled and stretched paper thin over ninety minutes. There are vague attempts to connect club culture with the fight against the Criminal Justice Act and its anti-rave laws, but like the unfocused chatter to be found in a chill out room, `Human Traffic' cannot grab hold of one clear, worthwhile thought and present it to the viewer.
Excessive use of `Trainspotting' style speeches to camera and magic realism do little to conceal a clumsy, incoherent screenplay. Engaging moments, like dope guru Howard Marks lecturing us on dope smoking etiquette, float by like the random gimmicks they are. The most cringe-worthy moment comes when Jip (John Simm) leads the cast in a rendition of the national anthem. Re-written with patronising youth' lyrics, the defining statement of late 90s youth culture is how hard it is to be cool. Young or old, the response of any self-respecting audience to such rampant self-absorption will be `So what?'