RogerBW's Blog

Traffic 24 July 2022

2000 crime, dir. Steven Soderbergh, Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle: IMDb / allmovie. Maybe after a hundred years of throwing more police at the drug problem we might try something different?

That's my basic problem with the film's thesis, really: in 2000 I already knew that this approach wasn't working, and I wasn't alone, but this film is aimed at an audience who think that drugs are just a problem for Those People, who need a jolly good shooting to teach them a lesson. No! It's White People Too! You Can't Win This Way!

And the other problem is that both the message of the film and its visual style have been widely imitated: the message, for me, in The Wire (which started in 2002, and I suspect got funding in part because of the success of this); the style in nearly everything. The colour grading here was still being done with filters, but digital intermediates were already in use and the whole blue and orange thing was soon to become universal; meanwhile constant shakycam became mainstream, and quickly clich├ęd, with the Battlestar Galactica remake starting in 2003; and everyone copies the thing where you change to the the soundtrack of the new scene a second or two before you change the visual.

But apart from what have become some hackneyed tricks, it's a very attractive film; Soderbergh has a wonderful eye for visual composition, and he was his own cinematographer here. I was reminded of his Haywire from 2011, though that worked better because it had a solid underpinning story that the visual tricks could serve.

Oh, wow, man, the new addict is the drug czar's daughter! I failed to muster any surprise.

It's a long watch and not an easy one, not because it's unpleasant, but because the course of events is so predictable. It has some wonderful acting (Don Cheadle and Miguel Ferrer stand out for me), but essentially no dramatic tension.

Once more if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

Tags: film reviews

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