Human Traffic (1999) starring John Simm, Lorraine Pilkington, Shaun Parkes, Nicola Reynolds, Danny Dyer, Dean Davies directed by Justin Kerrigan Movie Review

Human Traffic (1999)   2/52/52/52/52/5

John Simm as Jip in Human Traffic (1999)

Human Traffic causes me Jip

"Human Traffic" is one of those movies that tells us about what life was like for a certain age group in a certain decade. In its case it tells us about what life was like for twenty something's living in Cardiff at the tail end of the 90s where you worked all week just so that the weekends could be about sex, drugs, clubbing and getting drunk. Unfortunately if you never went through the same sort of experiences "Human traffic" ends up stupid and dull where as if you can reminisce about those crazy hazy nights, sweating it up close to someone on the dance floor then maybe it will hit an accord. For me, well I'm in the group which didn't get stoned on a Saturday night and so "Human Traffic" fails to speak to me.

Jip (John Simm) hates his job as does his friend Nina (Nicola Reynolds) and along with their other friends Lulu, Koop and Moff all live for the weekend when the partying starts as they hit the Cardiff Club scene, get drunk, take drugs and maybe have sex. But they all have hang-ups none more so than Jip who after a disastrous sexual encounter has some serious sexual paranoia. But maybe this weekend's hedonistic activity will cure some of their hang-ups.

Shaun Parkes as Koop in Human Traffic (1999)

Story wise, well you can sum "Human Traffic" up by saying it's about a small group of twenty something's who's purpose in life is to party but at the same time have a series of hangs up. So what we get in amongst all the drinking, drugs and sex are characters with issues over romance, work, sex and all those stereotypical issues young adults face as they try and make their way in to the world. I would love to say that "Human Traffic" is insightful in doing so, but it isn't, it shows these hang ups but because these characters we follow are almost extremes it's hard to see that having these hang ups is normal.

And whilst it's hard to relate to the storyline it also ends up being a movie which seems to encourage drug taking. Now here is the thing, there are countless scenes and references to drugs which litter the movie and occasionally the side effects of drug taking are mentioned, but they are almost made fun off. And so what is left is a movie where we watch people getting off their heads and we are meant to find this either discouraging or amusing, sadly for me it did neither.

But whilst I can't say that the storyline about drug taking twenty something's with a series of hang ups was my thing there is no denying that "Human Traffic" is a movie heavy on style. Think the styling of Danny Boyle with the styling of Tarantino and turn the dial up to 11 and you get the sort of idea of the frenetic styling of "Human Traffic". It does get a little too much with a snappy edit after a surreal moment, a series of snappy edits a fancy camera lens and then repeat over and over again. But even if it is too much it is also impressive turning a dull movie into something a little more entertaining.

And alongside the styling is the fact that "Human Traffic" revels in being in your face and frank. Scene after scene is filled with expletives and these are often coupled with some discussion of having sex, masturbation, getting off your head or in fact just about anything. Again maybe if during the 90s you acted like this then the raw frankness of it will be amusing but sadly it feels all too much, as if it's trying too hard to be in your face and edgy.

As for the assortment of twenty something's, well John Simm who is central to much of the movie at least comes across as quite nice, a little lost thanks to his hang ups. But the rest of the cast which includes Danny Dyer, Shaun Parkes, Lorraine Pilkington and Nicola Reynolds fail to really make an impression except for the fact they all seem to be over acting so that there characters seem like extremes.

What this all boils down to is that "Human Traffic" is a movie which didn't work for me. The storyline about twenty something's was dull and with characters and issues embellished to the extreme it ended up feeling like it's trying to hard. I am sure those who enjoyed similar hedonistic pursuits during the 90s may find some amusement from it but otherwise it just doesn't work.