Movie Review By Casey McCabe
Anyone who's ever been left cold, deaf or possibly frightened by Techno Rave music, and that could include everyone who still thinks closing hour is 2 a.m., might be in for the same surprise I had upon watching "Groove" the new film by San Francisco filmmaker Greg Harrison.
Set in San Francisco and informed by the local rave scene to the point of quasi-documentary, "Groove" follows the preparation, launch, climax, bust, resurrection, second climax and aftermath of a single Saturday night rave in an abandoned warehouse. It is also the story of, well, a couple hundred people, most of who seek out raves precisely for the transforming experience. At the heart of the mix is the story of rave buff Colin, who desperately wants to share the experience, his culture and his community with his repressed older brother, David. Colin also chooses this night to propose to girlfriend Harmony, and to explore one of his own repressions.
The catalyst for all these explorations is drugs. Either ecstasy or acid. And I tip my hat to Harrison for putting this out there honestly. Since the dawn of time people have said Yes to mind altering substances as a means of escape. Whether it's a crutch or a tool depends on the person. I certainly didn't need another hypocritical Hollywood cautionary tale, and "Groove" refuses to simply shoehorn one in. It's both rare and refreshing for a film to acknowledge that some drug revelations can remain clear and meaningful in the light of a new day.
There are precedents here, and they do spring to mind from equally low-budget, drug-ingesting, looking for meaning films from the Sixties, like "The Trip." But the simple touches, like truly caring for its characters, a sense of humor, the naturally fluid direction and general lack of hysteria makes "Groove" an exponentially better film. And yes, even hopeful. The rave community may indeed be the legacy of the hippies, filtered through the music and hedonism of the Disco era. But while its adherents may have better jobs and technology, they are also smarter, more socially diverse, less sexist and more genuinely egalitarian than their parent's generation. There are no gurus in this world, nor are there any iconic kings of the dance floor ala Tony Manero. There are a lot of young people looking for love, and finding it all over the place.
Of course writer/director Harrison may be wearing rose-colored glasses. I can't call him on it based on my personal rave experience. I just have a feeling that "Groove" is indeed the real article. I still can't explain how the status of musical genius is afforded the person who sets the needle down on the record. For that matter, I still don't care for the music. And there were probably a hundred inside rave jokes that flew right over my head. That "Groove" manages to amiably transcend all this is a minor miracle.
© 2000 - Casey McCabe - Air Date: 5/31/00
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