A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Produced By: Andrew Macdonald
Written By: Irvine Welsh (Novel), John Hodge (Screenplay)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd
Running Time: 93 Minutes
One of the most quintessential 90’s British adult romps is undoubtedly Danny Boyle’s celebrated, esteemed and beloved Trainspotting. Confronting, ludicrous and energetic beyond compare, the story is as dynamic as the central characters that roam central Edinburgh exploring the shackling and inescapable world of heroin.
The film is unique, stylistic and brave for a number of reasons, most of which come from the superb casting, editing and cinematography that congregate and become something truly special.
Based on the novel of the same name written by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting tells the tale of Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), a smack addict who attempts to break out of the unrelenting stronghold of addiction time and time again, only to get drawn back into the chaotic world through the unwavering habits of his close friends Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller).
Throughout the pulsating black comedy, emotions and tone fluctuate like a strange and unpredictable character under the influence, and what ensues is an incredible mixed bag of feelings and thoughts regarding the concerning act of heroin use. The film explores the highs, the lows and the even delves lower at many stages, driving home the cautionary aspects of the story; it’s not all fun and games.
Stylistically, Trainspotting is unlike anything Danny Boyle has presented us with, however he has built up that reputation as a director that tends not to do anything twice. With jump cuts, extreme angles, big close-ups and everything in between on display, the story of Trainspotting is brought to life on a completely different level through superbly bold cinematographic and editing techniques.
Although it would be recommended to rematch the film on mute to appreciate the visual elements in all their glory, the dialogue of the screenplay is equally as engrossing.
The thick, rich, bellowing Scottish accents are fantastic to listen to from a foreigner, especially from the fascinatingly intense Begbie (Robert Carlyle); a hardened adrenaline-fuelled brawler who acts as Renton’s voice of reason.
The script is intelligently written from beginning to end and offers a well-rounded look at life, existence, Renton’s life, Renton’s existence and how society operates around him. The writing has a way of repeating itself, which adds a lot to the structure of the film when dealing with relapse, habit and addiction.
On the other hand, it also adds the aspect of change into the mix as Renton’s vow to break away from the drug scene is explored thoroughly throughout the piece.
McGregor has never been better in many people’s opinion, and there is certainly no contention from my side. Renton is the definitive role that McGregor encapsulated from every single aspect. Although you remain very aware that you’re watching Ewan McGregor (he’s simply one of those actors), his efforts in Trainspotting are transformative to say the least. Furthermore, the interaction between him and his friends indicates depth, history and a rich connection.
The characters are believable and engaging through cast chemistry and character dynamics that lend something unique and special to each member. Amorality, carnage, shyness and tomfoolery are all on show within the smorgasbord of a supporting cast, and through their antics, they further the character of Renton like any supporting cast should.
There are confronting aspects as well as entertaining and downright hilarious moments within Trainspotting, and a reason the film was and remains so popular is because the story captures and presents a perfect mix of it all in keeping with the central theme and tone.
Unlike how Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream paints the harsh world of addiction in an unrelentingly grim light (whilst interestingly utilising quick edits and stylistic techniques all the same), Trainspotting is comparatively lighter, but that’s not saying much when observing the former.
Not once does the film outright glorify heroin usage, it remains against the habit for the majority of the film, however the characters’ mindsets are explored in-depth and we are treated to a devil’s advocate point of view regarding it all.
Through the descriptions of what it’s like, there is a sense of intrigue and sympathy for these people who have entered the vicious cycle of addiction.
For those who are interested in a definitive 90’s classic that shows elements of inspiration for the likes of Edgar Wright and younger energetic directors alike, choose Renton, choose Iggy Pop, choose Edinburgh, choose darker comedy, choose clubs, choose bars, choose chaos, choose lunacy, choose friendship, choose ambitious filmmaking, choose Trainspotting.