Traffic jam

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The Independent Online

Films that cause a stir are plentiful. Indeed, one of the refreshing things about the medium is the ease with which it allows directors to be adventurous. The surprising thing is the tiny number of films that provoke not outrage but serious debate: movies that engage the head as much as the heart.

Films that cause a stir are plentiful. Indeed, one of the refreshing things about the medium is the ease with which it allows directors to be adventurous. The surprising thing is the tiny number of films that provoke not outrage but serious debate: movies that engage the head as much as the heart.

There have been some, of course. The 1959 British comedy I'm All Right Jack satirised industrial relations with a portrayal of corrupt bosses and bolshy trade unions so powerfully that the BBC cancelled its television screening during the 1979 election. Now along comes Traffic, which has kick-started the stagnant debate over drugs.

The film may be simplistic and over-sentimental (and its ending is a cop-out), but it has made America wake up to the fact that the war against drugs needs to be fought in its homes, not just in foreign lands. It has shifted the debate from the trade to the demand, from cutting supply to treating users. This is a big step forward, and for that alone, it deserves all the awards it can win.

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