Monday, June 24, 2013

Film Review: Traffic (2000)

Traffic (Review)
United States/2000
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

Traffic follows the United States War on Drugs through several perspectives: the U.S. drug czar and his substance-abusing daughter (Michael Douglas), a Mexican police officers (Benicio Del Toro), and a trafficker's housewife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The stories subtly interlink to create a disturbing reality.

The story in this film is much too complicated to explain in a brief review, so I won't go deep into detail. The story revolving the drug czar and his daughter is very disturbing and realistic aa it features excessive drug use and presents a frustrating image of addiction; it's frustrating because of how masterful the disturbing depiction is captured. The Mexico storyline is also frustratingly realistic as it depicts the corruption within the legal system and the many flaws; it's as relevant then as it is now. The trafficker's story has less impact than the others, but manages to entertain; the focus isn't completely clear as it jumps between the housewife and the DEA, but it does conjure some interest with the interesting conversations concerning the trafficking process. All of the stories subtly interlink, although most of the main characters do not interact directly. The ending of the film is compelling - it made me think of my stance on the war on drugs and such, as well as contemplate the consequences.

I really enjoyed the story in this film. Every story blend together to create a compelling reality revolving around the drugs and the war on drugs. The depictions of addiction, corruption, and greed are incredibly frustrating because they are incredibly accurate. In a way, I hated it, but I couldn't stop myself from loving it; everytime the drug czar's daughter, Caroline, abused drugs, disrespecting her father and degrading herself, I'd cringe or shake my head; and it's sad knowing addiction happens to even the most privileged people; scenes with the power to evoke emotion such as frustration are spread consistently throughout the film. Ultimately, I think the story is superbly effective because of how accurate the depictions are of the drug war; accurate depictions of yesterday, today, and, unfortunately, tomorrow.

The acting is fantastic. Benicio Del Toro steals the show with a charismatic performance, delivering his dialogue with power and fluency. Michael Douglas also delivers a great performance - I like how he shows frustration and relief realistically, albeit conservatively. Erika Christensen also delivers a fantastic performance as an addict, her facial expressions really capture the feelings of euphoria. Each story was shot in a different tint so the audience can differentiate the stories. Personally, I found the tints to be distracting and too overwhelming. The direction and editing were fine, so the cinematography was an odd choice.

Overall, Traffic is a disturbing, haunting, and realistic depiction of the war on drugs; a compelling, though-provoking film. I strongly recommend a purchase for fans of the genre, a rental otherwise.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, graphic drug use, and nudity.

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