With its hallucinatory visions of crawling dead babies and a grungy plunge into the filthiest toilet in Scotland, you might not think Trainspotting could have been one of the best movies of 1996, but Danny Boyle's film abo... more »ut unrepentant heroin addicts in Edinburgh is all that and more. That doesn't make it everybody's cup of tea (so unsuspecting viewers beware), but the film's blend of hyperkinetic humor and real-life horror is constantly fascinating, and the entire cast (led by Ewan McGregor and Full Monty star Robert Carlyle) bursts off of the screen in a supernova of outrageous energy. Adapted by John Hodge from the acclaimed novel by Irving Welsh, the film was a phenomenal hit in England, Scotland, and (to a lesser extent) the U.S. For all of its comedic vitality and invigorating filmmaking, the movie is no ode to heroin, nor is it a straight-laced cautionary tale. Trainspotting is just a very honest and well-made film about the nature of addiction, and it doesn't pull any punches when it is time to show the alternating pleasure and pain of substance abuse. --Jeff Shannon« less
Adam C. (i12bnmovie) from SAINT LOUIS, MO Reviewed on 9/20/2010...
I wanted to love this movie. But, I did not. I saw it for the first time only a few weeks ago. I think if I had seen it back when it first came out, I would have thoght it was awesome. I would have had some sort of nostalgia for it. But, it was only 90 minutes. It was well directed, but not as "great" as I thought it would be.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Deeper than a heroin addiction
Lisa McKinley | Citrus Capital of the World, CA USA | 09/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd like to begin this review with my pre-viewing expectations - - ZILCH! I had never heard of this movie, had not viewed the trailer or read the box, I just sat down on my sofa as my husband pressed "play" on the remote and jumped right in with both feet. The first few minutes made me squirm, I was thinking "oh no, a movie glorifying drugs, with lots of F-words and thick accents", but the narration of the main character, Mark Renton, was intellectually stimulating, so I listened more closely and allowed myself to become immersed in the story. The characters in this story are ugly, heroin-addicted losers, but they are portrayed as very real people - - yes, they are bad, but they are not evil. Their lives are extremely grim and repugnant. I've always wondered how people addicted to heroin can live their lives thinking they are living normally, and the addiction is so powerful it renders them powerless to live any other way, but then I realized almost anything can be considered an addiction - - we all wrestle with something, be it our weight, our ethics, our punctuality, etc.. Moments when we convince ourselves it will be the last time, until the next time.The film makes some interesting comparisons between a "normal" life, and the twisted lives of these characters. You notice small hypocrisies, such as the friend in the pub railing against drug use, while he obviously has an alcohol and an anger-management problem. This film also addresses the issues of loyalty, culture, politics - - with some scathing commentary on consumerism and capitalism - - and some digs at the "Just Say No" and "Choose Life" rallying cries. I particularly liked the ending - - there were no sweeping revelations for the characters, they remained true to their weaknesses, true to their characters.There are plenty of sad, sick moments, and there are some very funny moments, even through the darkness, and the wit of each character is fantastic. Some of the most imaginative sequences I enjoyed immensely, but felt as though they could've done without the extremism and still kept a good flowing story. Still, they certainly made a strong point in the scene involving the most disgusting toilet in Scotland. As for the dialogue, I am going to have to watch it again, just to make sure I caught it all. My husband and I finally admitted we weren't understanding the dialogue as fully as we would've liked, so we switched to the "hearing-impaired" sub-titles about 30 minutes into the film. The Scottish accents are the thickest! The acting is terrific, across the board. I was shocked - - just flabbergasted! - - as the film ended and I saw Ewan McGregor was Mark Renton! He looked so gaunt and ill, not the charming and handsome Ewan McGregor of 'Moulin Rouge'! Definitely not a movie for the kids, 'Trainspotting' is a film everyone should see once, even if the topic is unsettling. Plus, I give it extra stars for utilizing my favorite descriptive noun - - "wanker". I also appreciated the integration of Iggy Pop's song "Lust for Life", knowing that it was written after Iggy had kicked his heroin habit and had a newfound lust for life. I'm just glad to hear that song used anywhere other than car commercials!"
Despair, Brilliantly Told
W. Carol | 05/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While there is definitely a form of macabre humor to this tail, "Trainspotting," one of the most brilliant films to come out of Britain in decades, is no laughing matter.It captures an entire voice--a feeling--a depth of despair among a group of disaffected, addicted, hopeless young men in the slums of Edinburgh. Having been in Scotland many times, and known young men of this age, I found this grim portrait all the more frightening and heartbreaking. They are essentially beautiful young men (some of them, anyway) who are casually and uncaringly dying while injecting themselves unflinchingly with heroine.No part of the heroine experience is hidden from the viewer, and I advise those who don't want to share the experience to avoid this movie. For the hovels, toilets, dingy bars, and alleys where these mates shoot up, and the close-up of the bloody needles, the mixing of the drug, and every other horror, is unrelenting. Add in the fear of AIDS, some hopelessly mindless and unfulfilling sex, a dead baby, real and hallucinated, and you have some idea of the nature of this film.So what makes it so brilliant? Everything. From the acting of Ewan MacGregor et al. to the spare script, to the photography, to every last detail, this is the quintessential picture of despair in the true noir sense. It is very hard to watch, very hard to think about--but is an experience not to be missed, and it is one that does not leave you anytime soon."
Why would I want to do that?
jakarta-nick | Jakarta, Indonesia | 07/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is the rhetorical question asked by Renton (Ewan McGregor) early on in the movie. That sums up the complete hold that heroin exerts on the lives of main characters of the movie and the horrendous consequences of this addiction.I have heard that Trainspotting has been criticized as glorifing drugs. People making this comment must be out of their minds. I have never seen such a powerful indictment of heroin and its effects and I ever had any inclination to try the stuff then a single viewing of the movie cured me forever. Most movies that I watch leave no lasting impression on me but many of the scenes in Trainspotting will stay with me for a very long time. There are moments that make you laugh out loud (Spud's job interview for example) and others that are some of the most powerful and disturbing film images that I have ever seen.Danny Boyle and co. have do a marvellous job of making a film about real people and real lives while making it compelling viewing at the same time. The soundtrack is excellent just to round off the experience."
Blu-Ray release isnt worth the upgrade
B. Sims | SoCal | 08/25/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This Blu-ray release, is not worth buying. The detail is subtly increased, but overall, but that is about it. The colors fail to pop, the transfer is flat. It fails to really stand out like it could. The worst part about this release though- no extras- none at all. They failed to include anything. The one and only option you get is French or English audio. Period. It doesn't even have a menu- the movie auto plays. If you are buying this movie on Blu-ray, understand what you're getting, slightly better detail, thats it. Hope for a better release."
Wheelchair Assassin | The Great Concavity | 07/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Its setting and subject matter were somewhat grim to put it mildly, but that didn't stop Trainspotting from becoming one of the top movies of the nineties, and having just watched it this morning I can safely state that it holds up well to this day. While I haven't read the Irvine Welsh novel on which this movie is based, I have read some of his other work, and the movie is a perfect distillation of his storytelling style-rapid-fire, filled with bawdy set pieces, characters living on the edge of acceptable society, and lots and lots of swears. It's also the kind of violent, genre-defying, and pop culture reference-laden movie, complete with way-cool soundtrack, that emerged with such force in the nineties and spawned so many imitations in this decade. For my money at least, this movie is a much more entertaining and convincing look at the world of heroin users than the interesting, but annoyingly depressing and pedantic, Requiem for a Dream, which came out a few years later to almost hyperbolic praise. Trainspotting is a blunt, unapologetic look a life most of us can scarcely imagine, delivered with a combination of hilarity and horror that effortlessly intertwines these two extremes. It doesn't shrink from depicting the damage caused by heroin addiction, but it doesn't downplay all the fun of it either, which is what lends it so much of its gritty believability.
Trainspotting also marked the arrival on the international scene of director Danny Boyle, whose manic visual style would later serve him well on the slightly-less-brilliant 28 Days Later. Perhaps most impressively, it manages to contain one of my all-time top ten movie lines ("Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?"), my favorite nickname ever, fictional or otherwise ("We called him Mother Superior on account of the length of his habit"-brilliant), and more "Oh my God, did I just see that?" images than you'll find in fifty Hollywood blockbusters. In Boyle's hands the crazy imagery practically flies off the screen, be it human waste flying from a sheet across a room, the movie's protagonist climbing into Scotland's filthiest toilet to retrieve something he lost, or the hallucinatory, nightmarish haze of a cold-turkey withdrawal. The unrestrained depictions of sex, nudity, violence, drug use, and bodily functions make this a movie not to be viewed by the squeamish, but they perfectly suit its unflinching examination of the sordid goings-on in one country's drug-laden urban culture.
The action is filtered through the point of view of the movie's narrator, Mark Renton, a cynical but insightful twentysomething travelling through a nihilistic culture of nightclubs and drug dens without many concerns beyond getting his next fix because, well, all other concerns seem petty and inconsequential by comparison. Although I don't use drugs (well, the ones arbitrarily declared illegal anyway), it's not exactly hard to understand Renton's reasons-in a world as numbing as the one that surrounds him, the ephemeral rush of a heroin high is more tangible and true than most of what people use to distract themselves from their unfulfilling lives. Really, that's what the movie's about-the relentless pursuit of that elusive and nebulous concept known as happiness. Renton's not that bad a guy; he mostly just wants to score some drugs and sex and listen to some Iggy Pop, and if his lifestyle causes anyone else (i.e., his parents) to suffer, well, that's just an unfortunate byproduct. Besides, it's not like he's missing that much: the Scotland of Trainspotting is a rather depressing land of dingy, Detroit-esque post-industrial decay, and even the natural beauty of the local highlands isn't enough to overcome the cynicism that's overtaken Renton and most of his friends. Viewed against this backdrop, it's easy to ask whether the straight life is even worth it.
Although Ewan MacGregor plays Renton in career-making fashion (too bad he spent all that time on those mediocre Star Wars prequels), Robert Carlyle delivers the most immediately enjoyable performance as the menacing Begbie, an unhinged, beer-swilling psychopath who looks at heroin users with contempt but has no problem cutting a swath of destruction through any bar where someone crosses him, intentionally or not. Even though (or perhaps because) he's so violent and unpredictable, Begbie gives the movie a sort of bizarre comic relief through the sheer force of his twisted personality alone. Even though I wouldn't get within fifty feet of the guy, I couldn't help but enjoy watching him, especially with Carlyle turning in such a likably maniacal performance.
Besides, in addition to what I've written above, how can you not like a movie that features a shot of a dead baby crawling along a ceiling and rotating its head 180 degrees? If that doesn't scream fun for the whole family, I don't know what does."