Trainspotting (1996)

Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is addicted to heroin along with his friends. He sets on a journey to get clean and move forward with his life.

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Kelly MacDonald

MPAA Rating: R for graphic heroin use and resulting depravity, strong language, sex, nudity and some violence

Fun Fact: To prepare for his role Ewan McGregor read books about heroin addicts and visited a heroin recovery group. He even thought about injecting heroin to gain more of an understanding but decided against it.

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to see Trainspotting and this is the first Danny Boyle film that I’ve sat down and did review work on. Based off a novel, Trainspotting, tells the story about a group of friends addicted to heroin and the effects of it.  It’s a shame it took me this long because this movie is fantastic. It’s not for the faint of heart due to the fact the subject matter is very real and intense. Sure, we have had films that dealt with drug use, but this the heart and soul of the movie. It takes a hard subject and makes it viewable. I may have a new movie in my top ten list. In the 90’s America may have had Pulp Fiction and Britain’s answer was Trainspotting.

My highest praise goes to director Danny Boyle and his cast. He gets some phenomenal performances especially Ewan McGregor. McGregor plays Mark Renton, who is addicted to heroin and gets into some trouble with his friends that have their issues as well. The interactions between the actors are incredible. You feel like you’re in the group of friends and you must decide how they people can get out of their situations. You want to root for Renton to get better and change his life around. In fact, you want all the members of the group to get better. The only character that had a problem with was Robert Carlyle’s character and that’s because of his acting. Carlyle’s character is such a jerk that it was believable. It was hard to see him go through his withdrawal alone in his room. I know this was at the beginning of his career, but every film that McGregor is in he brings it. With Boyle’s direction, we get into the life of an addict and it can be hard to watch. It reminded me of Sid And Nancy in a way as the scenes of despair are the selling point and that’s a hard sell to the casual movie goer.

The music that is inserted in certain scenes is phenomenal. One thing I liked was during the scene when McGregor’s character is in a club looking for a one-night stand. Through the scene the song Temptation by Heaven 17 is playing. It’s subtle moments like that help the movie. The film is filled with upbeat pop songs to set the mood in. The music is well placed when the scene needs it. I’m a music guy and movies with great music elevate the movie to the next level.

Another thing that I loved was the scenery. I loved the retro look of the apartments and I got a Clockwork Orange type feel to it. The rooms looked like they came out of the 1970’s. The look of the apartment where the characters shoot up heroin is perfect. It’s disgusting, hopeless, and hallow. It’s a place you don’t want to be at, and the atmosphere makes it that way on the way the set was designed.

Overall, Trainspotting is a must see if you haven’t yet. It took me a long time to see it and I’m glad that I did because I can’t stop thinking about it. Danny Boyle takes the source material and makes a real and relatable film. There are some comedic moments peppered in that make some scenes awkward, but that’s the point in black comedy. Ewan McGregor is excellent in his role and I don’t think I’ve seen a performance from him yet. He always brings it even if the script is terrible. The rest of the cast does a great job playing ordinary people that have some issues and you want to see them overcome those. We also get some awesome music to fit the scenes when needed and the set designs have a nice retro feel. Once again, this film is not for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend you watch it. It’s a shorter film and paces well so you will be invested through the whole ninety minutes.

Verdict: Hit

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