"Playing to a sold-out crowd on Saturday night – the 2nd to last night of the 3rd Annual E.VIL Film Fest – was “Rolling,” a hyperkinetic faux-documentary about a diverse group of strangers frequenting the L.A. underground club scene whose paths cross one fateful night thanks to the seductiveness of MDMA, or ecstasy.

There’s Rain (Sanoe Lake), a pregnant raver; Dustin, her ecstasy-peddling ex-boyfriend; Clinton (Clinton Cargile), a goofy triphead; Summer (Rachel Hardisty), a teenage runaway; Josh (Joshua Harper), a high school basketball star smitten with Summer; Lexa (Erin Cummings), a slutty party girl; Sarah (Angie Greenup), Josh’s high school teacher; Matt (Brian William Toth), a gay raver babysitting his uptight, valley-girl sister Samantha (Christine Cowden); and Dan (Albert Rothman), a vain trust-fund baby who looks (and acts) like Marky Mark. The only thing this motley crew shares, is a love of rave (i.e. ecstasy and techno/trance music).

“Rolling” marks the feature directing debut of Billy Samoa Saleebey, and with its crowded cast of characters and rave themes, is reminiscent of Doug Liman’s critically-acclaimed 1999 film “Go.” Like “Go,” “Rolling” follows multiple storylines that casually overlap until the end, culminating in a huge rave at Warehouse club, followed by an afterparty in the Hollywood Hills. Unlike “Go,” “Rolling” splices in documentary-style first-person interviews, picking various characters’ brains concerning their personal experiences with ecstasy (i.e. first time, sex, addiction, etc.). There are also some nifty visual tricks employed – the main storyline is shot in Super 16, while the testimonials are shot in DV. And of course, there’s the time lapse, a staple of druggie filmmaking since Darren Aronofsky’s cautionary anti-drug tale “Requiem for a Dream.”

The two threads explored in the greatest detail are the relationships between Rain/Dustin and Summer/Josh and, while it’s interesting to examine the damaging nature of relationships that are centered around ecstasy, these “deeper” moments are mostly a buzzkill, serving as speed bumps on one dizzyingly fun ride. The more enticing threads concern Clinton, a self-effacing wastoid who provides virtually all of the film’s comic relief, and Sarah, a 26-year old high school English teacher whose unique ethical dilemma warrants a closer look. Also, there’s a character named KJ, a lawyer (and the only black character in the film) who spouts clichéd rhymes like Roadblock from the “G.I. Joe” movie.

Whenever “Rolling” shifts from comedy to tragedy – which it does on several occasions – the film loses its focus which is the vibrant underground scene – sated with blaring lights, banging basslines, and no restraints - that these pill-heads inhabit. And yet, despite its shortcomings, it’s hard not to lose yourself in the entrancing world of “Rolling.” Ultimately, “Rolling” achieves what it sets out to do – it makes popping 2 MDMA, dancing your ass off and waking up the next morning in a dumpster seem like a sexy and cool proposition."
-Marlow Stern

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