Outside the Frame

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Film review: Trainspotting

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A pitch-black comedy of psychedelic proportions.


Trainspotting is a crazy, bumpy and exhilarating roller-coaster ride through the lives of a group of heroin junkies in the late eighties. It manages to be funny and shocking; a psychedelically colourful trip that is also all grit and grime. We follow Renton (Ewan McGregor) and his band of merry men as they traipse the pitfalls and disturbing highs of smack on the streets of Edinburgh.

There is Renton, Spud and Sick Boy, all heroin enthusiasts, and their friends Tommy, an anti-drug sports nut, and Begbie a psychopath who enjoys alcohol, knives and fighting people in bars. We witness the attempts of the three junkies to get off heroin, and their subsequent decision to get back on it. We follow them as they deal with girlfriends, parents, their drug-induced stupors and the things they will go through to keep their habit afloat – witness stealing televisions from old age homes and beware “the worst toilet in Scotland”!

The film, directed by Danny Boyle, never portrays the heroin addiction of these characters as simply dark and evil, it seems more complicated than that. They genuinely take pleasure from the drug. And Boyle immerses the film with much humour and comical set-pieces. The characters themselves are in fact caricatures that at once draw us to their humanity and shock us with their exaggerated flaws and mishaps. But in no way is the film pro-drug. While laughing at their shenanigans, we simultaneously are disgusted by the lives they lead.

The actors are all great, simple as that. And Boyle’s directing is highly imaginative for only his second feature film. Fusing together a menagerie of characters, music, colour and pop-culture references, Boyle manages to tap into the mood of the time to cleverly create a truly memorable slice of British popular culture. Trainspotting is a pitch-black comedy of psychedelic proportions that will make you laugh, cry and cringe. Probably all at the same time. 


Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 28 August, 2008 at 3:04 pm

One Response

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  1. I read that he was quite keen do a Coronation Street appearence :O. Sounds a bit dodgy to me. There’s a part of me that kind of wishes this is not true lol.

    Lynnette Workinger

    Friday, 8 January, 2010 at 10:57 am

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