Human Traffic ★★

Stumbling upon this fairly obscure (here, in the U.S.) British comedy was not fortuitous for me. While I don't think of myself as an old coot, rave culture is so foreign to me that a movie must do something very special to engage me if it's going to wallow in and mostly romanticize (more on this later) what seems to me a colossal waste of youth. My twenties predated rave culture by just a few years, but even then simple nightclubbing always seemed like a complete bore. When I was in college a friend of mine complained about how his girlfriend's idea of a good party was a group of friends having dinner, drinking winer and talking. That sounded great to me! Who wants to spend hours in a crowded room filled with deafening music and stoned idiots? The characters in Human Traffic, that's who.

The first of only two movies directed by Justin Kerrigan, Human Traffic is a romantic comedy modeled after the style of Trainspotting and Guy Ritchie movies (neither of which I particularly enjoy). It follows a small group of lower middle class Welsh Ali G-like twentysomethings as they indulge in the "clubs, drugs, pubs and parties" of Cardiff's weekend nightlife. Like its cinematic influences, everything in Human Traffic is ramped up to a stylishly annoying frenzy.

Although I struggled to summon any interest in the movie's semi-bright characters and their Bacchanalian escapades, it wasn't all-bad. There are amusing and creative moments buried underneath the off-putting cinematic tricks. The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln shows up a few times, looking very young, stoned and not yet worried about Carl. In moments, Human Traffic hints at insight and more discerning point-of-view -- but, self-critical insight is often just another shallow pose among the type of kids depicted in Human Traffic, so it doesn't stick.

I don't have any problem with party-all-night movies -- I count some serious and some wacky ones among my favorites -- but this one hit a sour spot of cultural disinterest, from its specific world, with its monotonous music, to its bland drug-addled characters, who just didn't do enough to distinguish it.