the fresh films reviews

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Trainspotting (1996)

Succeeded by: T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Danny Boyle
94 minutes
Andrew MacDonald
Screenwriter (based on a novel by Irvine Welsh):
John Hodge

Cast includes:

Mark Renton Ewan McGregor
Spud Murphy Ewen Brenner
Sick Boy Jonny Lee Miller
Tommy Kevin McKidd
Francis Begbie Robert Carlyle
Diane Kelly MacDonald
Swanney Peter Mullan
Mr Renton James Cosmo
Mrs Renton Eileen Nicholas
Mikey Irvine Welsh



Danny Boyle was promoted from promising new filmmaker to the next big thing in the business with this in-your-face, uphill/downhill depiction of heroin addiction, superficial male camaraderie and the seemingly prospectless reality of young and aimless twenty-somethings in the outskirts of post-Thatcher Britiain, Edinburgh department. The adaptation of Irvine Welsh's acclaimed novel was the trio Boyle/MacDonald/Hodge's follow-up to their breakthrough Shallow Grave, and it is a documentaristic lesson in forerunning editing, camerawork and use of film stylistics, accumulated into a disturbingly acute depiction of bypassed youth generations and what happens to people who haven't found a way to grow up when their own youth culture is being replaced by a new one.

The similarities between Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange are palpable. Ewan McGregor, as Mark Renton, is Alex De Large of the 1990s. His futile existence hovers between light-heartedness and utter inertia. He views himself as an inherently bad person and the society around him as a natural enemy with him being our "humble narrator". Both films have their origin in what the authors warn us is the British society's corruption of the young, and both films use stylistic and egregious means for effect. Whereas Clockwork was about violence, Trainspotting depicts drug-use, and it does this in an effectively non-didactic and unbiased manner. It is in the portrait of inebriation Boyle's work is at its best, as he is able to transfer these visceral experiences, both ups and downs, in an often surrealistic and visual manner. His camerawork and careful assortment of music enables us to largely adopt the emotional mode of his wretched characters.

Trainspotting is not first and foremostly a narrative film; it is an atmospheric and evocative piece designed to stir up emotion - from exhilaration and fascination to disgust and gloom. The plot veers along with the recognizable combination of vital purpose and fundamental meaninglessness that characterizes the day of a drug addict, and all along there is always the search for that little glimpse of hope for he who happens to be lucky or resourceful or determined enough when the one opportunity to choose life (or electrical tin openers) comes along.



Mark Renton (McGregor): "We would have injected vitamin C if only they'd made it illegal."

Re-reviewed: Copyright 1.8.2008 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright 17
.4.1997 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang