Movie review of Groove

Friday, July 14th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Those who find fault with the movie Groove have probably never been to a rave.

Although this includes a large part of the population, Groove nonetheless has plenty to win over viewers with an open mind. Even if they don't know the difference between hard house, techno, jungle or trance.

Set in one night at a San Francisco warehouse party, Groove begins with a series of e-mails giving the meeting point where ravers can get the real location of the event.

Everything that could happen at an actual rave (goofily dressed partygoers passing out stickers, maps with wrong directions, tardy DJs, a surprise appearance by the cops) happens in Groove, with the exception of any kind of violent climax.

Yes, the movie has drug use – in spades. But the real appeal of Groove is the more universal stories that lie behind the lives of its characters.

Those in the rave scene are searching for something that society doesn't always make readily available; a sense of enlightenment that may or may not be chemically induced.

This is best illustrated in the relationship between dorky David (Hamish Linklater) and experienced party girl Leyla (Lola Glaudini), which plays like a classic love story.

The two couldn't be more different, yet what draws them together is the fact that neither is in touch with his or her dreams. David, an aspiring writer, is penning how-to computer tracts, while Leyla has spent her 20s doing nothing but chasing the next good time.

As she talks about a European vacation, she muses "I told myself I was seeing the world but I never even saw daylight," adding "I just want to commit to something without any fear."

The fear of not having a life worth living is a common sentiment in the Lollapaloser generation, whether or not you've achieved the big bucks or are still struggling for artistic crediblity. It's also a major moment in Groove that makes the film about much more than a wild party.

Despite this, the overriding feeling of the movie is optimistic. As you can't explain the feeling on the dance floor (you just have to feel it), you also can't explain how being at a rave involves some undefinable emotions inspired by the music.

Club promoter Ernie (Steve Van Wormer) best sums it up as "the nod," a non-verbal thank you for an incredible good time.

"Someone comes up to me and says, 'Thank you very much for making this happen. I really needed this....' Then they nod. And I nod back."

It's why he throws the party for no profit, why the DJs lug around heavy boxes of records, why ravers spend hours driving to some abandoned warehouse or dusty field.

In Groove, Ernie gets his nod – from the newly converted David. And the audience gets to nod right along with them.