Traffic

Movie Review #633

traffic_ver2
Studio: Bedford Fall Productions — Compulsion Inc. — Initial Entertainment Group (IEG) — Splendid Medien AG — USA Films
Distributor: USA Films
Country: USA — Germany
Spoken Languages: English — Spanish

Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Produced by Laura Bickford, Edward Zwick, and Marshall Herskovit. Screenplay by Stephen Gaghan. Based on the TV mini-series “Traffik” by Simon Moore.

Rated R by the MPAA, for pervasive drug content, strong language, violence and some sexuality. Runs 2 hours, 27 minutes. Premiered in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on December 27, 2000, and at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2001. Wide release in the USA on January 5, 2001, and in Germany on April 5, 2001.

Starring Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, Michael Douglas, Luis Guzmán, Dennis Quaid, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Also starring Jacob Vargas, Marisol Padilla Sánchez, Tomás Milián, Amy Irving, Erika Christensen, Topher Grace, D. W. Moffett, James Brolin, Albert Finney, Steven Bauer, Clifton Collins, Jr., Miguel Ferrer, Peter Riegert, Benjamin Bratt, and Yul Vazquez. Additionally featuring Salma Hayek in an uncredited role.

Cinemaniac Reviews three and a half stars

“In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas.”

Steven Soderbergh doesn’t have any distinct style, as far as this critic can tell, and his “Traffic” might best exemplify this. It features a creative approach that has rarely been taken by the most prestigious, let alone the then-up-and-comer Soderbergh. What works about the movie is that it’s a crime movie that doesn’t feel like a crime movie. Aside from some choppy Hollywood sets in Tijuana, this all looks very much homemade. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot to praise about the reality found in the title overlays. For those who have yet to upgrade to Windows 7, you could recreate the titles in Windows Movie Maker faster than you could make a ham sandwich.

“Traffic” is basically a much more sophisticated approach to any reality TV segment focusing on crime. You have your narcotics officer, your drug addict, etc., and they all get their time on camera. (Again it’s more sophisticated.) In a movie, this many characters is cataloging an epic poem, except this particular script chooses to focus on six major characters, not one. We’re introduced to them as in any other movie, but we learn a lot more of them. They’re staples to their own fables, and although these segments wrap together later on, the movie’s shifting between stories is rather comprehensive.

Each of these fables presents a completely different message, about completely different people, living in different areas. But their concern is the same thing: drugs. The account often hauntingly explores drug abuse, dealing, addiction, and of course, trafficking. We’re looking at an A-list cast, who nearly transforms into their roles. Catherine Zeta-Jones isn’t perfect, but a scene when she visits her husband in prison makes her entirely memorable. She and Benicio del Toro–who is muy bien–may be the two antiheroic exceptions to the one law the movie lays down. It operates on its characters being as respectable or deplorable as if we knew them.

Between the direction and the writing, “Traffic” already succeeds. Stephen Gaghan gives us a look at the story as if we were there. As half the movie takes place in Tijuana, Mexico, half of it is in Spanish. And as previously noted, the movie is anything but egalitarian. With “Traffic”, I shiver at the reality found in the subject matter; the movie goes into great depth.

As with anything by Steven Soderbergh, “Traffic” develops pacing errors over time, but it’s all worth getting through in the end. Soderbergh won this achievement an Oscar for a Best Directing; just three years later, it appeared in the Criterion Collection. I realize neither one is something every director expects to earn out of his or her achievement, but as far as what Steven Soderbergh has done with “Traffic”, I can’t exactly say I’m surprised.

About these ads

  1. Plenty of stories worth paying to, as well as characters to care about, but never passes judgement on either one of them. Hence why this deserves to be seen. Good review.

  2. Jaime R.

    I’ve always been wondering why did the Academy choose Gladiator over this masterpiece…




Your thoughts below:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


  • Welcome!

    CINEMANIAC REVIEWS
  • ★★★★ = classic
    ★★★½ = excellent
    ★★★ = good
    ★★½ = acceptable
    ★★ = fair
    ★½ = poor
    ★ = pathetic
    ½ = trash
    0 = worthless

  • COMING SOON

    All Is Lost
    August: Osage County
    Deconstructing Harry
    Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex * but Were Afraid to Ask
    The Fountain
    Husbands and Wives
    Inside Llewyn Davis
    The Longest Day
    ...and more

  • Quick Recommendations

    No film is recommendable to everyone, because if it strongly appeals to many audiences, it's going to be poorly received by at least one audience. These 25 classics, however, I would recommend to eight and a half, if not nine in every ten people.

    2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

    BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN

    BEFORE SUNRISE

    BEFORE SUNSET

    BEFORE MIDNIGHT

    THE BIG LEBOWSKI

    BLUE VELVET

    THE BIRTH OF A NATION; OR THE CLANSMAN

    CITIZEN KANE

    CITY LIGHTS: A COMEDY ROMANCE IN PANTOMIME

    DAVID LEAN'S FILM OF DOCTOR ZHIVAGO

    EYES WIDE SHUT

    FIGHT CLUB

    GOODFELLAS

    THE GRADUATE

    KILL BILL: VOL. 1

    KILL BILL: VOL. 2

    MARIO PUZO'S THE GODFATHER

    MARIO PUZO'S THE GODFATHER: PART II

    MARIO PUZO'S THE GODFATHER: PART III

    MATCH POINT

    PULP FICTION

    REQUIEM FOR A DREAM

    THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED

  • Don't like coming here all the time? Not a problem: we can come to you. Enter your email address to follow the blog and receive notifications of new reviews by email.

    Join 1,186 other followers

  • Blog Stats

    • 65,396 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,186 other followers

%d bloggers like this: