Bottom Line: The mood is decidedly heavy and premeditated, but the quality vacillates all over the place.
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Renton: Ewan McGregor
Also Starring: Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly Macdonald, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle
“The world’s changing. Music’s changing. Even drugs are changing.” –Diane (Kelly Macdonald)
Trainspotting is a morbidly intense drama. A film about heroin and how it can easily take control, there is almost no limit to what is shown in their disgusting actions, vivid hallucinations, and increasingly depraved lives. I’ll honestly say that I have never experimented with drugs of any sort, nor do I have any interest in doing so; I’d imagine a heroin addict, current or rehabilitated, would react to the film much differently. In my eyes, director Danny Boyle (later known for Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, and 28 Days Later…) was attempting to put the epidemic in a negative light. Often times, it works well in this dark compound of comedy and drama. Others, it spontaneously, impulsively seems to contradict itself.
Renton (Ewan McGregor) is a streetwise fellow in the capital city of Edinburgh, Scotland. On a daily basis, he makes his living by lying, cheating, stealing, and other ways of screwing townspeople over. His home is where he creates and injects heroin alongside his fellow addicts. Little does he know that the depressant is vilely demolishing his life as well as those around him. When this horror comes to his fruition, Renton tries to wean himself off it. But the fact that everyone he sees on a regular basis is still submissive to the drug’s lethal power, is alluring to him.
The characters presented in Trainspotting are the main issue. Take away their addiction to drugs and they’re still not all that admirable let alone interesting. Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller)–a man an obsessive aspiration to emulate Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond. Spud (Ewen Bremner)–an unintelligent putz. Begbie (Robert Carlyle)–a violent, deranged psycho. Diane (Kelly Macdonald)–a fourteen-year-old whose boredom is no more than a catalyst for drug addiction. Tommy (Kevin McKidd)–an athlete who is lured and destroyed by his own curiosity. Even the main character gets a superficial makeup. At the point where the film begins, he’s nothing more than a walking stash of drugs. His narration makes him seem like a completely different person. Or you could say, at least he delivers harrowin’ diction about heroin addiction. It takes them all a painfully long time before they either a) muster up and realize that they are living lives of constant turmoil, or b) die in vain before they get a chance.
Trainspotting succeeds in its effort to endure all ninety-four minutes. The MPAA accurately rated this R “for graphic heroin use and resulting depravity, strong language, sex, nudity and some violence.” I don’t know about you, but those kinds of extremities alone would prompt me to turn the film off before the ten-minute mark. It’s not the screenplay that professes exceptionally. An adaptation of Scottish author Irvine Welsh’s debut novel, written by second-timer John Hodge, I’d assume the film would look merely decent on paper. It’s Mr. Danny Boyle himself who calls the shots and reaches nearly uncharted peaks. Five-time Boyle collaborator Brian Tufano’s low-key, minimalist cinematography adds a pinch of realism and a few notable ounces of entertainment. The soundtrack equips both techno and rock music to the same gripping effect. Of course, half of it is composed of Iggy Pop. I mean to say Trainspotting is watchable with these relieving embellishments. I enjoyed it while it lasted, and after watching its gratuitous, macabre, and unsettling nature, I’ve instantly developed an aversion from heroin. On the other hand, I’d rather not give such a twisted drama a second viewing.