The real story of youth in the nineties is this: chemicals, clubs, bars, pubs, mobile phones, trainers, combats, care-less, monged, mashed, sorted, safe.
Five best friends, 48 hours and a bucketload of ecstasy pills make for an enjoyably lightweight slice of pop-cultural ephemera from debut director Justin Kerrigan. Cardiff is the city, and hardcore partying, clubbing and pubbing is on the menu as Jip (John Simm) and his renegade band of McJobbers clock off and head out for a weekend of debauchery. Among Jip's hedonistic posse are the cheeky cockney drug-dealer Moff (Danny Dyer), the terminally jealous boyfriend Koop (Shaun Parkes) and the bad-boy magnet Lulu (Lorraine Pilkington).
And that's pretty much it. Our heroes meet in a pub, get drunk, take drugs, go to a club, then to a party, then home and then meet up in another pub, just in time for the closing credits. Along the way there's a shamefully lethargic attempt to establish character back-story: Jip is temporarily sexually impotent because his mother's a prostitute; Koop's father is institutionalised; Lulu has nasty boyfriends; and Moff has conservative parents. But generally Human Traffic is happier at the heart of the party, celebrating the intoxication of club culture--which it does in style. Kerrigan pulls out all the formal stops with an energetic melange of jump cuts, slo-mo, and speeded-up "smudge" motion camerawork. There's also direct addresses to camera, fantasy sequences and some self-conscious cameos from DJ Carl Cox and former-drug dealer Howard Marks, author of Mr Nice. Wall-to-wall music from the likes of Fatboy Slim, William Orbit and even Primal Scream help paste over the occasional cracks in the veneer, which include some particularly duff lines ("We're gonna get more spaced than Neil Armstrong ever did!") and a drawn analysis of drug references in Star Wars, a nod to the films of Kevin Smith, such as Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy. And if the whole project already feels dated and empty, well that's because it perfectly captures an essentially 1990s moment, and one gloriously empty weekend. --Kevin Maher