Film, Comedy
4 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
A shocking, painfully subjective trawl through the Edinburgh heroin culture of the 1980s, Irvine Welsh's cult novel is hardly an obvious choice for the team who made Shallow Grave. Yet the film's a triumph. Audaciously punching up the pitch-black comedy, juggling parallel character strands and juxtaposing image, music and voice-over with a virtuosity worthy of Scorsese on peak form, Trainspotting the movie captures precisely Welsh's insolent, amoral intelligence. Amoral, but not unthinking, and certainly not unfeeling. Nihilism runs deep in this movie, emotion cannot be countenanced, only blocked off by another hit, another gag, but the anarchic, exhilarating rush of the highs can't drown out the subsequent, devastating lows - these are two sides of the same desperation. Danny Boyle's intuitive, vital, empathetic direction pushes so far, the movie flies on sheer momentum - that and bravura performances from Bremner's gormless Spud, Carlyle's terrifying Begbie and, especially, McGregor's Renton, who supplies a low-key, charismatic centre. This may not have the weight of 'Great Art', but it crystallises youthful disaffection with the verve of the best and brightest pop culture. A sensation.

Release details

93 mins

Cast and crew

Danny Boyle
John Hodge
Jonny Lee Miller
Robert Carlyle
Ewen Bremner
Kevin McKidd
Irvine Welsh
Ewan McGregor
Pauline Lynch
Kelly MacDonald

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

This film is hard to watch, especially as you'll find yourself laughing at scenes that shouldn't be funny (the morning-after scene of Ewan McGregor's character's one-night stand is priceless), and even if you're pro-drugs you'll be cringing at the gruesome and desperate attempts of the main characters to get high or get clean. The movie's real charm (if you can call it that) lies with the performances, particularly McGregor's appealing Renton and Robert Carlyle's completely mad Begbie, although Jonny Lee Miller is easy on the eye. Look for a number of actors who were unnknowns then and are mainstream now to pop up and do some spotting of your own of Edinburgh's grittier landmarks. It would be wonderful if 20 years had dated the issue of addiction, poverty and homelessness, but that's clearly not the case, so as Renton will tell you, 'Choose life.'