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  Human Traffic The Weekend Has Landed
Year: 1999
Director: Justin Kerrigan
Stars: John Simm, Lorraine Pilkington, Shaun Parkes, Danny Dyer, Nicola Reynolds, Dean Davies, Jan Anderson, Terence Beesley, Stephanie Brooks, Richard Coyle, Helen Griffin, Emma Hall, Andrew Lincoln, Danny Midwinter, Carl Cox, Howard Marks, Jo Brand, Pete Tong
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jip (John Simm) and his Cardiff friends are looking for escape because they've all got problems they'd be happy to forget about for the space of a weekend. Jip has his sexual performance hangups to worry about on top of everything else, and today wouldn't you know it? The last girl (Jan Anderson) he tried to have sex with is in the shop he works in, and she walks right up to the counter. Jip wants to apologise about that night where it all became a letdown, but is too embarrassed, so he serves her and leaves it at that. If only he could have an easygoing relationship like he does with his mate Lulu (Lorraine Pilkington)...

There's a sequence in Human Traffic where two clubbers who are getting on a bit having been on the scene for ooh, about eight years, reminisce about how much better it was in the old days of 1991 with all the glow sticks and whistles and whatnot, and you can imagine ex-clubbers for years to come looking back on this film and the world it depicts with the same nostalgia. Writer and director Justin Kerrigan's comedy drama was so true to life it must have been born from living out these experiences, and even if you hadn't had the pleasure, or otherwise, authenticity was the order of the day.

Or the theme of the night, whatever. Despite appearances, there was a story here, carried effortlessly by a willing cast portraying the five friends we follow on a typical adventure. There's also Koop (Shaun Parkes) who actually enjoys his job working in an independent record store but is unreasonably concerned that his affectionate girlfriend Nina (Nicola Reynolds) might be interested in other men when it's plain for everyone else to see she isn't. She has just packed in her fast food job after reaching the end of her tether, and joined the ranks of the unemployed, along with Moff (Danny Dyer).

Now Moff is seen as the film's figure of fun as well as the supplier of ecstasy to the others, but I wonder how seriously they'd take him if he did indeed stop selling them drugs as he threatens emptily near the end. You can't get away from the fact that Human Traffic is a narcotic-drenched film, but Kerrigan merely presents this as he sees it: you can have a really great time while out of your head, but be aware of the comedown that awaits you the next day, or sooner. Any stern moralising would have jolted with the rest of the tone.

And that tone is kept endlessly inventive thanks to the method of filling every scene with gags, fantasy sequences and tricks to keep up with even the shortest attention span. From the fast food outlet workers moving like production line robots to the new National Anthem singalong to Jip and Lulu reviewing his recent night of impotence and commenting on what went wrong, it barrels along merrily, and although yet another Star Wars conversation might be lazy, it does convincingly fizzle out. Surprisingly, there's quite a lot of time devoted to the days after the night of clubbing to put things in perspective, and it only contributes to the faithfulness of how it is to live these characters' lives. All this and a soundtrack chosen by Pete Tong is the icing on the cake.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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