DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
May Contain Spoilers!
The year was 1997, and one the most groundbreaking and controversial films of the 1990’s was loaded into my VCR and ready to play. What I was about to watch for the next 89 minutes was one of the most graphic films about heroin addiction that, certainly up until that point, had ever been made! This was text-book on how to use heroin, from the appeal and the orgasmic hit to the concoctions mixing to aftermath. Whether it be an over dose or the innocent believing that they could handle it and dying of toxoplasmosis. But events that still manage to raise a laugh without sacrificing any of the horror!
And that is where Trainspotting, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, who cameos in the film, works so well. It’s basically the ultimate anti-drug film, preaching in the right way, with a brevity that removes you from the gritty horrors which we would normally turn away from. Our hero, for want of a better word, Renton (Ewan McGregor), is someone who most of us would avoid in the street and yet here we follow him on his journey as he tries to leave the life of drugs behind him yet falls back into it time after time.
We, like Renton, feel sorry for him but beneath this social pariah is a real human being who given half a chance could better himself, well, possibly. Then, at the other end of the scale is a career defining performance by the always excellent Robert Carlyle as Begbie, a total psychopath who as a NONE drug user, though he drinks and smokes like a trooper, is the worst and the most evil character in the film.
A caricature of a Scottish nutter, he is the true dark soul of a film about the so call lowest of the low, inner city drug addicts. But that’s the point of this film, made at a time when people where quicker to judge than to listen. These are victims of the not only their addiction but the rut in which society forces them and rarely can a film that makes you laugh so hard, convey such a mature message about a truly horrific and distasteful subject.
But after 16 years, not much has changed, certainly in this country. But this film certainly stands up and one of the best anti-drug films ever made and one which on the outside would seem to be a manual on how to do it! But for every pro, the negatives are slapped on with a trowel…