Quick Hit: Terrifying in its intensity, and loose on narrative structure, this film is unforgettable in its portrayal of the heroin epidemic.
Trainspotting, adapted from the novel by Irvine Welsh, is an incredible movie. Filled with the manic, drug-fueled intensities of a young Ewan McGregor, Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, and Robert Carlyle, this film is really unlike most that you’ll ever see on screen. It follows these young men on their addiction driven schemes as they run around Scotland in the 1990s.
Trainspotting is worth a watch, but be warned – those with weak constitutions should not watch this movie. It has some of the most unflinching portrayals of some horrific parts of our world – disgusting toilets, detoxing, AIDS, addiction, and, perhaps most shocking, crib death. You’ll be cringing frequently as different parts of the movie flash by in an instant, because Trainspotting rarely gives you time to take a breath – when it does, it’s mainly to allow you to truly appreciate how far gone these young men are.
The actors and manic camera direction are what make the movie. From the start, McGregor’s portrayal of Renton (and his associated voice over) gives us both a character to hate, and one to root for. As he prepares to give up drugs, and talks about Sick Boy’s perfected way to detox, you’re welcomed in by his enthusiasm and willingness to accept us into his world. But isn’t that the way drug addiction always is, welcoming and warm, inviting… before moving to a cruel world of debauchery and hate.
A perfect example of how this world can go wrong is Kevin McKidd’s Tommy (if you’re wondering what you recognize him from, it’s either Made of Honor or Grey’s Anatomy). Beginning the film as the only one who doesn’t do drugs, he is the epitome of health, and is often portrayed lifting weights. However, after he has his first taste, his life quickly devolves. When we last see Tommy, he can barely be bothered to get out of his bed. It’s haunting, but not nearly as much as the scene where we see Renton trying to detox. Some of those scenes gave me nightmares.
However disgusting the film may be in its portrayal, it’s a wonder that Danny Boyle made it watchable, and even funny. In fact, it’s hilarious and beautiful at times. Part of that is the witty banter between the different cast members, and the hilarious situations they often find themselves in. But some of it is the frequent need to release some of the tension built up in the heavier scenes. So when we see Renton die in a toilet in search of suppositories, you can’t help but laugh – otherwise, you’ll cry and won’t stop til the end of the film.
I liked Trainspotting, and I think most film fans will too. I’m giving it a “B”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"