Justin Kerrigan's "Human Traffic" arrived on these shores with earlier this year with quite a bit of good buzz, but seemed to fail to connect with American audiences. The film really doesn't have much in the way of the plot, but I liked the way that the whole thing was presented. We follow along the five main characters Jip, LuLu, Koop, Nina and Moff, who are young twenty-somethings who hate their job. They live for the weekends - raves, parties, drugs, and whatever they can do to escape from the outside world, if only for at least that 48 hours before Monday morning hits.
The film zips by like it's on one of the drugs the characters have just taken; in fact, I don't remember seeing a more energetic film since Doug Liman's "Go" (which covered similar ground). We learn more about the five lead characters and the way they communicate with the world around them. Most of the bits are quite funny and well-written. The main part of the movie though, follows the kids through the places they party and the aftermath of their actions. There's fun little tricks that actually are successful here, such as characters talking to the camera, or a scene where a character gets up to sing a song and the film has subtitles and a "bouncing ball" as we follow the words. It tries to throw everything at you to get the viewer into the minds of these characters.
The performances are uniformly quite good, and apparently, most of their dialogue is improvised. Some people may have trouble understanding the dialogue and accents, but I at least got the idea of what the characters were trying to communicate - and there are quite a few 4-letter words. I liked the film's look and style, as well. The cinematography is edgy and sharp, the music is clear and energetic and the pacing - well, the film flys by at a remarkable rate of speed. "Traffic" isn't perfect, but I'm definitely looking forward to the next picture from the director, as this one shows he's got definite potential to do even better in the future.
VIDEO: This is a pleasing presentation from Miramax for "Human Traffic". Presented in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and anamorphic, the picture quality consistently look crisp and clear with very few distractions. Sharpness and detail is a little off at times as some scenes are a little bit soft and not as well-defined, but most of the movie looks really good. The bright, poppy look of the movie and strong cinematography translate well to DVD.
Aside from a bit of a soft look at times, I didn't notice the usual flaws. The print used is in excellent condition, with not a flaw to be found. Some light pixelation is visible briefly on a couple of occasions, but shimmering is absent. Colors are great throughout the movie, looking bold and bright, with no bleeding or other flaws. Very good, but not excellent work from the studio.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack comes alive very well with the music, as it sounds rich, dynamic and really enveloping. Surrounds are used well, coming into play mainly for the music, but also occasionally for some effects. As one would expect, bass is strong with the music's beats. Dialogue is generally natural, although english subtitles are available for those who aren't catching the accents. Overall, a good audio presentation that can be quite active at times.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with very basic images serving as backgrounds.
EXTRAS: As with most Miramax titles, they either give us all or nothing. Or, as we see here, next to nothing - we only get the trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Human Traffic" is a wild movie that will appeal to those in their late teens or twenties. Miramax's DVD offers fairly good audio/video quality, but for $32.99 retail price, unfortunately, the only extra is a theatrical trailer. If you're in the target audience, it's worth a rental.
The Film B+
Video 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Audio: 89/B+ = (356/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 79/C+ = (237/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: B+
DVD GRADE: B-