on 23 January 2004
This is an absolute must-see film. Gritty, funny, serious, harrowing - the film includes all these elements. Excellent cast, excellent soundtrack and excellent film. Ewan McGregor gives a very good performance as main character/narrator Mark Renton. Although he is not a model citizen, he is likeable. Spud is a bit goofy and also likeable. Robert Carlye perfectly plays physco Begby who in the words of Renton 'Begby doesn't do drugs, he just does people'.
The film follows Renton and his so called mates. The situations the characters find themselves in can be scary, funny and interesting. Throughout the film, we see the tension between friends and the battle Renton has with drugs. The film also shows the bad effects drugs can have on peoples life in a hard-hitting way.
When people think of Trainspotting they think 'oh it's a film about heroin addicts'. But when you see the film you realise there is more to it than that. Dig deeper and you realise the film is mainly about choices and friendships. Renton chose to do drugs rather than live a life working 9-5 with a family to look after. Although i don't agree with drug-taking at all, in a way his reasons are understandable. This film can be watched over and over again. There is so much to take in as there is a lot more in it than meets the eye. Enjoyable, entertaining and highly interesting. I get engrossed in the film every time i see it.
I always find it a bit worrying when I return to one of my favourite films some time later (particularly films of a more recent vintage) only to discover that I had rushed to judgement. I'm pleased to say, however, that a recent re-viewing of Danny Boyle's vibrant 1996 Edinburgh-set tale of boredom, criminality and heroin addiction (based on Irvine Welsh's brilliant novel) has (for me) lost none of its original appeal. Not only is Boyle's film a fast-moving, brilliantly edited visual treat (with an intoxicating soundtrack featuring Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, New Order and Underworld that is a perfect fit), but in John Hodge's witty and ironic script and its set of outstanding acting turns (plus some great cameos, courtesy of some of 'Scotland's finest'), it adds up to a film vying for a place in my top 10 British films ever (and certainly would be in my top 5 or 6 of the last 20 years).
Casting aside any 'picture-book' notions held by us English of Edinburgh Castle on tins of Walker's Shortbread, Boyle pitches us immediately into the netherworld of Auld Reekie (albeit most of the film was actually shot in Glasgow), a world of teenage boredom, petty criminals, drug dependency and self-deprecating nationalism as Ewan McGregor's Renton and Ewen Bremner's Spud 'leg it' down Princes Street, shoplifters on the run from the 'polis', all to Iggy's thundering Lust For Life. (In fact, not only does Boyle's masterpiece have one of the greatest opening sequences in cinema, it also has one of the finest conclusion's, this time to Underworld's Born Slippy). As was the case with Welsh's novel (actually a collection of short stories), Boyle's film is essentially a series of vignettes, an expletive-ridden voyage through late-20th century urban decadence, both hilarious and tragic.
Acting-wise, it is difficult to imagine a finer cast (from its time). Not only does McGregor deliver (for me) easily his best screen performance as witty narrator, thinker and addict, but so does Bremner as the naive 'follower', and fellow 'gang' members, Jonny Lee Miler's smooth-talking Sick Boy (his Sean Connery-focused 'cinema narration' is, for me, a highlight) and Robert Carlyle's brutal Begbie ('He's a psycho, but he's a mate, what can you do?'), aren't far behind. That's not all, though - in addition we have Kevin McKidd as 'abstainer' (but ultimately, 'unlucky'), Tommy, Kelly Macdonald as 'underage' Diane, the great Peter Mullan as dealer Swanney and James Cosmo as Renton's father, as well as Shirley Henderson putting in a cameo appearance and even Welsh himself turning up as another dealer, Mikey Forrester.
Boyle's film has, of course, been criticised for glamorising drugs - a sentiment with which I would wholly disagree, simply witness scenes such as Renton's toilet submergence, his hospital admittance, the film's depiction of the impact of AIDS and addiction's effect of 'sidelining childcare'. These are tragic scenes (admittedly shot with great cinematic flair) and alongside scenes such Spud's bedsheets, Renton's revelation of Diane's schoolgirl, Spud's job interview, baby Dawn crawling on the ceiling, Begbie's 'meat and two veg', plus many more, make Boyle's film an unstoppable tour-de-force, pretty much without a second wasted during its surprisingly brief 90 minutes.
Rather like the effect that Welsh's source novel had on the literary world, Boyle's film shook up the (British) cinematic world with its levels of 'controversy' and provocation. It is difficult to think of a (certainly British) film which has had a comparable effect since, although the most obvious earlier comparator is probably Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (a film with which Trainspotting shares a number of stylistic traits). Boyle's film is (for me) also one of the most evocative films dealing with the (Scottish) urban 'underclass', alongside the likes of Gillies MacKinnon's Small Faces and Richard Jobson's 16 Years Of Alcohol.
on 10 November 2013
Amidst the serious drug use, the casual drinking, the casual violence, the casual sex, the casual theft, the non-stop expletives, indescribable squalor, wrecked lives & no-hope bleakness - and not least the unintelligible accents - there were genuinely hilarious moments, sharp observations & straight talking among 5 'friends' (I use the word loosely) whose lives revolve around the regular intake of narcotics. Moral: Abandon hope all ye who enter this drug-addled world.
Verdict: Grim subject, but excellently depicted & holds your attention despite being stomach churning. Therefore 5 stars.
on 17 May 2006
Irvine Welsh's startling novel is bought to life for the silver screen and it does the compelling, best-selling book total justice. Director, Danny Boyle shows imagination and inventiveness with this origanal, provocative story of four Edinburgh lads going on a self destructive rampage and focuses harshly on the characters physical decline into heroin addiction and the harrowing situation that revolves around this. Some scenes are admitedly disturbing but thats solely down to its superb performances from the cast which features Ewan Mcgregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Johnny Lee Miller and Kevin Mckidd. They all put in powerful, very commendable performances (particularly Robert Carlisle as the demented psycho yob) and compliment the razor sharp scripts that are totally astounding and eerily realistic. Despite its deeply unpleasant content the film welcomingly has its fair shair of laughs although is pure black comedy. This well balanced film evokes the harrowing atmosphere and some hard hitting facts brilliantly resulting in a stunningly unique piece of work that is nothing sort of a masterpiece. Highly recommended!
on 17 June 2012
Thanks to all those who have told "us" the spending public what to exspect when hoping for something special with this ..If you are going to spend money on packaging , and re-releasing why bother at all if you not restoring what it is your selling. No matter the cost , this film should be preserved to look its best regardless of the expense. Danny can afford it , so can Channel Four Films , its just a shame that this classic 90's piece of cinema will never get the polish it rightly deserves..Spielberg spent 3 years cleaning up JAWS for its Hi-Def release in September , the 35mm print of Trainspotting would be worth the 3 years wait if it ended up looking as sharp and pristine. The LOWERY restoration group did wonders to Ridley Scotts ALIEN as well as many others like all the James Bond films , now they all now look sharp , detailed and like they were made yesterday..Maybe Danny will realize one day that his work is as important and stop making a few quid directing sports events instead of decent movies...A real shame. Thanks to the public's advice ,I will NOT be buying this in Blu Ray now , so that's one less sale from the buying public.