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by laurence boyce | august 2000



"'Groove' will be the first feature film that succeeds in creating an authentic portrayal of the rave scene" says the publicity. "No it won't" says everyone who's seen 'Go', 'Human Traffic' and countless other movies of that ilk. Despite its efforts, 'Groove' fails to be engaging, witty or the slightest bit interesting.

A group of people head to a rave held in an abandoned San Francisco warehouse. Amongst them is Colin with his fiancee Harmony and his brother David, a rave 'first timer'. On their arrival, David is taught rave culture by the beautiful Leyla and Colin puts his relationship with Harmony in danger. They, with lots of other people, dance, take drugs and drink lots of water. Er, that's about it really.

One of the main points about 'Groove' is how a rave is more than a party: it's a community of people all sharing the same feelings. But with such a wafer thin story -and characters to match- we care so little about this community that the message of the film is rendered obsolete. From the first few moments, the story is so predictable. Will David's introduction to rave culture make him realise how boring his life is and introduce him to new possibilities? I'll give you three guesses. Also all present and correct is the whacked out drugs dealer, predatory males, hedonistic party girls and stupidly named DJ's (including John Digweed -admittedly not a stupid name- in a "he can't act for toffee but, what the hell, he's famous" cameo appearance). 'Human Traffic' worked so well because the characters were interesting which in turn made the examination of the culture so fascinating. Here they are just ciphers which leave us cold.

Debut director and writer Greg Harrison fails to give the film any sense of energy. Dance scenes are alternated with characters talking which gives the entire movie a disjointed and sloppy feel. It renders any serious points into a series of 'why raves are good and nobody understands us' lectures that have no hope of achieving any sense of coherence.

All that said, there are a few moments which show that Harrison may have promise if working with better material. The scene in which the power is turned on in the warehouse is great as the previously dark and dank place becomes a makeshift club as if by magic. A nice touch was also added with the moment at which an attempt is made to convince the police that the rave is in fact an office party. These moments are unfortunately few and far between.

'Groove' is not a bad film: it's just wholly unoriginal. And whilst action films can get away with this -offering bigger explosions etc. than previous ones- this type of film can't. If you have no interest in rave culture then 'Groove' will do little to change your mind. If you do: stay in and listen to your Ministry albums and save yourself the ticket price.

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