Movie review of Human Traffic

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

The film you can most closely compare to "Human Traffic" is "Trainspotting," but instead of Scottish heroin addicts you get Welsh Ecstasy fans. And, instead of we-told-you-so moments like dead babies, overdoses and AIDS diagnoses, we get ... a pretty good time and a mild hangover.

Hollywood likes its movies about drug use and party culture to end badly, so a nice, tidy moral gets firmly tacked on the end. There's no such moral in "Traffic," which is actually a good thing.

"Human Traffic" delves into a segment of society many people wish didn't exist. High-strung Jip (John Simm), his best pal, Koop (Shaun Parkes), loony Moff (Danny Dyer) and Koop's girlfriend, Nina (Nicola Reynolds), are just like most early twentysomethings the world over: stuck in dead-end jobs, battling with their parents' generation gap, confused about the future and working for the weekend.

"I'm going to never-never land with my chosen family," announces Jip before taking the weekend's hit of E, and he gets there without too much pain and trauma. Yes, they all drive screwed up, but they get to their destination. Yes, they spend hours talking about nonsense with their new best friends they can't look in the eye during the comedown. And yes, they all suffer over fast food the next day. But nothing really traumatic happens in this more or less plotless comedy, and that's what makes it ring true for other members of the "chemical generation."

First-time director Justin Kerrigan, 25, reaches high, and he sometimes falls flat on his face. The endless series of fantasy sequences (such as when Jip imagines he's being sodomized by his hated boss) just seem silly and take you out of the connection with the characters.

The background of their sometimes traumatic family lives also comes across as a bit heavy-handed. Jib's call-girl mother and Koop's father, who lives in a mental hospital, may seem good reasons for seeking to escape through drugs. Yet the whole film is about how there's no real reason that they do drugs or party - it's just a phase of growing up they admittedly will leave behind.

Most effective is a subplot with Jib and his platonic friend Lulu (Lorraine Pilkington), who end up having a grand romance sitting under their noses the entire time they're looking for love in all the wrong places.

When the duo walk arm in arm down the street at the end, it's a rather Hollywoodesque happy ending for a very non-Hollywood movie.