Traffic reminded me of Lone Star (and not just because of the border-crossing issues) and of Boogie Nights (and not just because of Don Cheadle and Luis Guzmán) so if you liked those, you'll probably like this. This is one of those epics with a couple dozen characters (many of whom get shot) and fistfuls of plot threads operating in tandem, organized around a particular theme — in this case, drug trafficking. It's good. (The movie is, that is. Drug trafficking is bad.) I was especially impressed by its sense of place: half the reason I go to the movies is that they allow me to spend some time in Other Places without having to gas up the car or find lodging, whether it be the BC Interior in The Sweet Hereafter, Geneva in Three Colors: Red, Juneau in Limbo, you name it. Traffic takes us to Tijuana, Mexico City, inner-city Cincinnati, upper-crust Indian Hill OH, and even further upper-crust La Jolla CA, just to name a few of its locales, and all are evoked with glorious specificity. The plot takes a few questionable turns, but for the most part is pretty compelling; the two and a half hours fly by.

I suppose this is the part where I'm supposed to comment on the movie's position on drug policy. No thanks. To me drugs aren't primarily a political issue or a health issue but a moral one, and this isn't the venue. Instead, I will point out that one of the main characters is played by a newcomer named Erika Christensen, which is a name I made up nearly a decade ago for one of the random casualties in Ready, Okay!. But I suppose it's more likely than a key grip named Carver Fringie.

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