Loosely based on Irvine Welsh’s first novel of the same name, Trainspotting transports us to the seedy underbelly of the ‘culturally rich’ city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Where we spend a great deal of unstructured time following 5 friends as they shoot heroine, drink, smoke, fight, avoid employment and generally screw up as they look for their next narcotics score.
Trainspotting doesn’t have a plot as such, and only tacks on a ‘big drug deal’ narrative at the end of the proceedings to bring the film home. Until then, it’s the adventures of Mark “Rent-boy” Renton (Ewan McGregor) and company, and more a collection of moments that attempt to give the viewer some insight into the world of the drug user. The hows and whys, the motivations and consequences as the boys find ever more extreme ways to alleviate their boredom and depression. Doing so in an entertaining way without glorifying drug use. The characters in the story are tragic figures after all, lost to poverty and self-medication.
Even though there’s hardly any character development or plot, Trainspotting is still a excellent film. And impresses on the strengths of its superb cast (especially Ewan McGregor) and John Hodge’s hilarious script. Danny Boyle keeps the film bouncing along at a great pace, and the now legendary two volume soundtrack album is a fantastic blend of punk, rock and trance.
This movie is rated R for language, depiction of drug addition and even child abuse. Some imagery may offend. Expect a slick ride to a great soundtrack, and don’t look for a structured three act narrative.
The film was shot on a shoe string budget, and it shows from time to time. A HD or streaming show will service this film well enough on any device you care to watch it on.
I love this conversation between Renton and Swanney, a.k.a. Mother Superior (Peter Mullan), as Renton declares he wants to get clean.
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: Never again, Swanney. I’m off the scag.
Swanney: Are you serious?
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: Yeah, no more. I’m finished with that shite.
Swanney: Well, it’s up to you, man.
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: Gonna get it right this time. Gonna get it sorted out. Gonna get off it for good.
Swanney: I’ve heard that one before.
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: The Sick Boy method?
Swanney: Well, it nearly worked for him, hey.
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: Well, he’s always been lacking in moral fiber.
Swanney: He knows a lot about Sean Connery.
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: That’s hardly a substitute.