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June 7, 2010

6

Trainspotting

by Franz Patrick


Trainspotting (1996)
★★★★ / ★★★★

I loved this film the first time I saw it when I was about seventeen because it taught me that it was okay to take so-called friends out of your life when all they did to you was slow you down as you strived to reach for your potential. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremmer and Kevin McKidd star as four friends (three of which were initially heroine junkies) as they fill their empty lives with drugs, sex and violence. They also hang out with a violent older man played by Robert Carlyle who detested drug addicts but, funny enough, kept drinking alcohol to the point where he constantly got in trouble with the law. One of the many things I loved about this film was, unlike the overrated “Requiem for a Dream,” it was not preachy in terms of overcoming addiction to hard drugs. Instead being obvious about its lessons, it simply showed us the circumstances of the characters’ lives and, more importantly, the choices they made that ultimately landed them in either bliss or misery, temporary as they may be. I also liked the fact that it managed to touch upon the issue of the importance of parenting and that parenting doesn’t end when the child turns eighteen. So as hardcore as the lifestyles that were featured in this picture, there undoubtedly was heart underneath it all and it was constantly at the forefront. Furthermore, I enjoyed the fact that the four characters were never really on the same stage of addiction: when one was clean, another one was not, while the other straddled the line between being a slave to the drug and being a master of his life. The film also commented on the dynamics of their friendships. Even though they spent a lot of time with each other because they were getting high, they did not talk about the important things to one another. Each of them felt scared and alone as if they were rats trapped in a maze–constantly living in survival mode and trial-and-error. As serious as the film’s core was, I thought the movie was very witty and very funny. Danny Boyle, the director, made sure that the memorable lines were not just cool in itself but also meaningful and infused with double meanings. Boyle also impressed me with certain shots because the images epitomized the definition of cool and careless disregard. “Trainspotting” will always be one of those films that will stay with me because I was able to extract a lot of meaning from it. For me, its core was not about how drugs are bad for you. It was about the deeper meanings of friendships and having a strong internal locus of control to lead your life the way you want to. Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, “Trainspotting” is an ambitious and imaginative film that is not afraid to tell the hard truths.

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 7 2010

    I agree wholeheartedly. Absurdly, when it premiered ‘Trainspotting’ was accused of glorifying drug use, but I think it comes to down to it not being ‘preachy’ in the opposite direction, as ‘Requiem for a Dream’ was (and you’re quite right about it being overrated). Also, I’m glad you noted how funny it was. Danny Boyle in my mind is underrated as a filmmaker, and his early hits (‘Shallow Grave’, ‘Trainspotting’) may still be his best.

    Reply
    • Jun 17 2010

      I’ll definitely have to check out “Shallow Grave.” It’s one of the three I haven’t seen from Boyle’s repertoire.

      Reply
  2. Jun 9 2010

    “I loved this film the first time I saw it when I was about seventeen because it taught me that it was okay to take so-called friends out of your life when all they did to you was slow you down as you strived to reach for your potential.”

    Terrific point! I certainly need to rewatch this soon.

    Reply
  3. mcarteratthemovies
    Jun 10 2010

    The toilets in this film alone put me off wanting to try smack for life. And the baby scene — dear goddess!

    Reply
    • Jun 17 2010

      That was the scariest baby I’ve seen in my life. I don’t like thinking about it because it freaks me out.

      Reply
  4. Jan 29 2011

    Put simply, Trainspotting is one of those films that gets the mixture just right. The dialogue, the music, the performances, the direction, the production values, the humor, the shock-value. Good review, check out mine when you can!

    Reply

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