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Groove

(Greg Harrison, USA, 2000)


 


Most fads in youth culture are destined for belated treatment on the screen. Usually, these fads – new trends in fashion or music, for instance – become mere backdrops, a bit of novel colour to spice up Hollywood’s same old romance or action plots (as in Gossip, 2000).

Less frequently, youth styles inspire an inventive variation in storytelling or film language itself: witness the techno influence on Run Lola Run (1998) and Go (1999). Even rarer is the attempt to analyse the lifestyle experiments of the young as an X-ray of a society in flux, as Olivier Assayas did in Cold Water (1994).

Groove tries to make arresting drama and cinema out of the rave party phenomenon, and fails dismally. Its closest neighbour is the British low-budget gem Human Traffic (1999); but where that film had charming characters and many amusing vignettes, this one is flat and dull – far closer, in fact, to the Australian disaster One Perfect Day (2004).

Is there something inherently interesting about watching a gaggle of people hot-wire an abandoned factory, send out cryptic internet messages to potential ravers, and line up DJs who spin records for a jiggling crowd? Writer-editor-director Greg Harrison certainly seems to think so.

But he is unable to imagine either intriguing subplots or appealing personalities to spice up this endless droning night. The pickings are slim: a gay couple who bicker as they search fruitlessly for the party’s secret location; a cop who has to be diverted from seeing or hearing the fun; an uptight intellectual who takes a few drugs and chills out; a celebrity DJ from the UK whose magic at the turntables is endlessly asserted but not convincingly demonstrated.

It all builds up to a montage of pretty young things wildly letting go on the dance floor – their movements slowed down and speeded up in that variable-motion trick known as speed ramping done to death during the fight scenes of Charlie’s Angels (2000).

When morning finally comes, we are meant to believe that these ravers are somehow wiser and happier. But I left Groove feeling only annoyed and cheated.

© Adrian Martin November 2000


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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