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DIRECTED BY: Danny Boyle
FEATURING: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Kelly Macdonald
PLOT: Renton, a heroin addict struggling to get his life under control, is just one of a collection of misfit 20-somethings puttering around Edinburgh, Scotland, in this stark and blackly-comedic examination of the underworld.
COMMENTS: A commonly requested movie in our reader request queue, Trainspotting holds the ranks of cult classic, box office smash (relative to its budget), and critical hit. Not only is the movie itself enshrined by fans, but the soundtrack—one of the biggest reasons why this is a cult film to begin with—was a worldwide multi-platinum seller. To make sure that I don’t go off on anymore tangents about the soundtrack (because I adore it, natch), here’s my coverage over at my music blog gig so I can focus here on the movie; later, I’ll climb on my soapbox about drug legalization/awareness/safety. When it comes to this movie’s themes, I find myself almost distressingly overqualified to discuss it.
I trust that after almost three decades almost everybody interested has seen (or at least heard about) the film, so I’ll just fill in some light non-spoily details. Trainspotting has a Pulp-Fiction-like structure, with several intersecting lives on various trajectories, some headed up and some headed down, verily, to the gutter or the grave. At the center of this busy rat’s nest of urban squalor is antihero Renton (McGregor), heroin addict trying to get his life on track. His mates are Sick Boy (Miller), a blond pimp, co-junkie, and charming sociopath; Spud (Bremner), a luckless underdog with the personality (and IQ) of a Labrador puppy; Begbie (Carlyle), a brawling psychopath with a hair-trigger temper that even scares his closest friends; and Tommy (McKidd), a squeaky-clean and very self-righteous jock. Renton is trying his best to straighten out and fly right. But first he has to overcome his addiction, and then the gravitational pull of urban poverty. Renton stands at the threshold of a bleak and joyless existence, wondering if his own future is worth salvaging.
When it comes to weird-movie credentials, everyone seems to remember the toilet where Renton dives after his precious suppositories—a shot of it is in every trailer. Some recall the dead baby crawling on the ceiling, turning his head Exorcist-style before falling down on Renton, just one of many hallucinations the addict experiences during extreme withdrawal. But let’s not forget the overdose scene, where Renton nods off so hard that he physically sinks into the carpet about six feet deep… and we’re stuck in that POV all the way to the hospital, when a shot brings him bolting out of his drug coma (and return to wide-screen). His dealer, Mother Superior (“jumped the gun”), stuffs Renton’s limp body into a cab, and the cab driver in turn dumps him on the street in front of the emergency room like a Continue reading CAPSULE: TRAINSPOTTING (1996)