February 12, 2007
It's funny to consider that one of the single most used (and abused) drugs in America is only now receiving its film debut. Rolling by Billy Samoa Saleebey ambles through the lives of a dozen ecstasy users to organize and document the events that transpired on one average but dangerous night out. To make an awkward parallel: if Swingers met Scared Straight and had a baby on E, that baby might be Rolling. Though the plot is fully scripted and cast with actors, Rolling is produced in the style of a documentary. As such, the film alternates between talking head interview footage of each of the cast of characters and coverage of their lives at home, at work and with their lovers. When the disparate characters find each other at a rave and end at the house of a wayward college student (en route to a career in law, no less) each makes decisions that ultimately contribute to tragedy. What's good about the film is its interest in E as a culture. Though the characters are a little archetypal, they serve a larger, more cautionary role in this story "based on true events." The cast is as varied as it is common: the actors look like girls and boys next door and they act just like any average person set in front of a camera would…uncomfortable and aware they’re being watched. In addition, with so many characters, you’re libel to identify with at least one of them. The whole: "these kids could be you" idea comes up a lot, and reasonably so. The film is quite successful depicting a controversial issue amply, involving all its degrees of safety and danger, but never resorting to prescription. You could carve as many arguments to legalize the drug as arguments to ban it out of the film, and though the approach to faux documentary is hardly original, the elements that are brought together for the final product make a concise and meaningful enough package to make the whole endeavor pretty worthwhile. Totally worth seeing if you’ve ever rolled but totally not worth seeing if you’re actually rolling. This is nothing like Heavy Metal so don’t get confused.
- Sara S

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