Directed by Greg Harrison
Starring: Lola Glaudini, Hamish Linklater, Denny Kirkwood, Mackenzie Firgens.
MPAA Rating: R for drug use, language and brief sexuality.

Review by Matt Heffernan
July 3, 2000

While procrastinating to write this review, I watched a documentary on AMC about the history of rock 'n roll on film. From Rock Around the Clock to Woodstock, popular music formed a symbiotic relationship with the film industry, selling records and cinema tickets in tandem. Film soundtracks continue to sell well, but music-oriented films are mostly dead -- forget about actual musicals. On the independent scene, however, first-time director Greg Harrison has tried to make a film that wants to be for the year 2000 what Hey Let's Twist was for 1961.

Of course, young people are quite different today. The rave scene is a far cry from Frankie and Annette hanging out on the beach. These kids get together, drop some "ecstasy", and dance to highly-touted disk jockeys in secret locations. Groove follows the course of one night in San Francisco, where a rave is taking place inside an abandoned warehouse.

David Turner (Hamish Linklater) is an aspiring writer who is convinced by his brother Colin (Denny Kirkwood) to attend this rave. It's a special occasion, because Colin is going to propose to his girlfriend, Harmony (Mackenzie Firgens). Once there, David takes his first ecstasy pill, and soon feels the drug's effects, which make the user more open emotionally. He meets Leyla (Lola Glaudini), a regular on the rave scene, who guides him -- and the audience -- through the experience.

I can't speak from personal experience, but I have heard that this film is supposed to accurately portray rave culture and the people who participate in it. That's well and good, but that doesn't mean it makes a compelling film. It has its merits, including some amusing and introspective scenes, but like the music played on the dance floor, the film just endlessly drones on.

The pacing sometimes shifts between frenetic and nearly motionless, making the viewing experience quite disorienting at times. That may be intentional, since that's the way David probably feels. Many minor characters are introduced, and there is even an attempt at some plot elements, including conflict with the police and Colin's partially drug-induced straying from Harmony (with another man, even). However, I can't see this film really connecting with most non-rave audiences.

Worse yet is how Sony is supposed to market this film. In all my viewing, I've seen only one trailer, and no television advertisement. The only actor I was familiar with was Glaudini, who briefly played the civilian assistant Dolores on "NYPD Blue". They've got a real challenge on their hands, and I wish them the best, but I can't give them a recommendation.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Groove (2000)

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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan