Wildly inventive, extremely funny (often sickly, disturbingly so), filmed with an insane sense of energy and pace,
and an eye for truly inventive surreal images, and a soundtrack full of great songs that all fit perfectly. Not to
mention a bevy of superb, brave performances.
This study of 4 young mates in Scotland, 3 drug addicts, and one addicted to violence reminds me in some ways
of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights”. Both take us behind the scenes of dark, dysfunctional works (drugs,
porn), but do so with a sense of humor and humanity that transcends clichés and makes us relate to these
characters as human beings, not just porn stars or drug addicts. These are both films full of ideas about choices
and morality, without ever feeling moralistic or judgmental, and both use their central world as metaphors for the
bigger worlds around them. You might escape porn, or drugs, but you can’t escape the forces that push people into
I’m surprised to read so many reviews claiming Trainspotting’s ending is optimistic. Yes Renton is walking away
from drugs, but he’s also stabbing his mates in the back, and joining a world that’s just as obsessive about money,
success, drink, sex, material things, as an addict is about drugs. To me, that’s what the whole, chillingly ironic
‘choose life’ monologue that bookends the film is all about. Truly ‘choosing life’ is about a lot more than just
saying ‘no’ to drugs.
Not to mention the title ‘Trainspotting’ which refers to the innocent, but still obsessive, humanity-disconnected
hobby of noting down types and times of trains that go by. Perhaps a slower death than drugs, but a turning away
from living life just the same.