Monday 22 December 2008

Traffic [2000]

What most critics call the prolific after American auteur Steven Soderbergh’s magnum opus, Traffic was the director’s grandest venture that is epic in its scope. This tour de force movie, interestingly, was made just after the much more intimate Erin Brokovich. Comprising of some of the who’s who of the American film industry and multiple inter-connected parallel plots, Traffic is a ruthlessly detailed albeit ideologically somber movie that managed to tackle the issue of drug trafficking right from its source to its end usage in the streets of America. Benicio Del Toro (in one of his best performances) and his buddy are Mexican cops fighting a self-destructive battle against the drugs; Don Cheadle and his partner are fighting a similar seemingly-losing battle in the US; Catherine Zeta-Jones (in a delectably amoral performance) has taken the onus, at whatever costs it may incur, to save her arrested drug-trafficker husband, using the aid of a crooked lawyer played by Dennis Quaid; Michael Douglas, in a typically intense role, has been appointed drug czar to clean off the mess only to find that his daughter is an addict. Making terrific use of colour filters and film stocks, exceptionally fast-faced editing, and succinct narrative that is simultaneously gripping and economical, the movie is a memorable body blow for the politicos with a simplistic view of this complex and all-encompassing monster of a problem. Unlike two other terrific movies on narcotics, viz. Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, Traffic doesn’t have black humour or psychedelic visuals; rather it is more revelatory in its intent and matter of fact in its opinion.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Genre: Drama/Crime Drama/Police Drama/Epic
Language: English/Spanish
Country: US


PIPER said...

This is one of my favorite Soderbergh films. The Douglas story derails it a bit in the end with his press conference.

The most surprising performance of the film to me is Zeta Jones. He knack for survival is probably the scariest story in this bit.

Shubhajit said...

I agree. This is indeed a very impressive movie, and suffice it to say, an ambitious effort by Soderbergh.

And yeah, even I found Zeta Jones' character very scary. For her end justifies the means. Rarely do get to see mainstream actors play characters who are so glibly devoid of even an iota of ethics. Her character could easily be one of the finest screen villains.