Trainspotting (1996)

One film that must always be watched with subtitles on.

Danny Boyle’s explosive 1996 film tracks the misadventures of young men (played by a cast that includes Ewan MacGregor, Robert Carlyle and Jon Lee Miller) trying to find their way out of joblessness, aimless relationships and drug addiction. Some are successful, while others are hopelessly not.

When it comes to drugs, you shouldn’t get involved with them at all. Their bad news, they break lives one by one, especially heroin. Heroin is that hardcore drug that all the alternative rockers take such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Kurt Cobain, among others. It’s considered one of the heaviest drugs, that will change your life forever, but as this film shows, that it doesn’t always have to be terrible all the time.

The one great thing about Danny Boyle, with this film, is that his direction is just about flawless. Literally from the first shot, keeps this film going at a quick, nasty, and in-your-face pace that doesn’t stop until the last credit is off the screen. He does so well with conveying so many emotions with his setting, of depressed Scotland, and how gritty, and dirty is, almost as dirty as its inhabitants too.

My favorite thing about this movie that basically had me won over was it’s script, that worked on all levels. This film in a way is a dark comedy, with bits of comedy, as dark it may be, but they still do get you laughing. But the drama when it hits, oh lord, does it ever so hit, but it never gets too depressing to the point of where you can’t watch anymore, cause you may kill yourself. These characters are drawn out as unique, and realistic people, that you are basically put with in this film, and you don’t mind, considering that you can probably relate to some of these characters, considering their all heroin addicts. There’s some beautiful insight with this film, and as the film progresses, you start to realize the movie is less about drugs, but more about life, and how you should direct it. But the film also delves deep into the life of a drug addict, and the feelings, and ideas you get while your on it. You want to live this different kind of life, because that’s what drugs offer you, but as you start to see your life crumble, you try to build yourself back up, and start it all over, and be what you never wanted to be in the first place, ordinary. This film captures terrifically the struggles of being a drug addict, and eventually getting away from being an addict.

Ewan McGregor got his break with this film as Rent, and let’s just say he deserved it, and if anybody’s trashing on Ewan now, saying he’s a crumby actor, they can just look back at this film, and see he always has been great, just give him the right material. Rent is your ordinary, average drug addict, with plenty of ambitions, which makes him a great person for the film to revolve around. He’s very ordinary, and also interesting. Robert Carlyle as Franco, is simply hilarious, because he’s this tough-as-nails guy that will kick your ass in a second if you mess with him, and watching him stirring up trouble all the time, is so funny and enjoyable. Ewen Bremner as Spud, does a good job, playing a funny character, that we sympathize with early in the film. Johnny Lee Miller as Sick Boy, is kind of a dick, but that’s good, cause we’re interested when watching his character. Also, need I not forget to mention Kelly Macdonald as Diane, who isn’t in a whole bunch of scenes, but is still fun to watch, every time she is in them.

The only setback from this film is the Scottish accents are deep, and if you like to read sub-titles through your movie a lot, then this is certainly the movie to use it for. But even this is very, very, minor.

Consensus: Gritty, darkly humorous, painful, and altogether realistic true story of what drugs will do to you, that supports witha  great script, and direction, that is even better with the performances.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!


  1. Great review. This film is one of my all-time favorites and it’s somewhere in the top 20 films of all-time for me. I first saw it on VHS rental when I was 16 and it’s still one of my favorites. I really need to get the DVD for that film.

    What I liked about wasn’t just the way Boyle created those compositions but the relationship between Renton and his boys. I always wanted to be one of those guys. At times, I wanted to be Sick Boy because I wanted to get chicks or other times. I wanted to be Begbie so I can be a badass. It’s just a film that is always going to stick with me for years.

  2. Good stuff, man. I love this movie, it’s one of my favorite “drug” films. I will never forget that baby crawling on the ceiling, just crazy.

  3. Yeah and no need to be ashamed for not understanding, I live in Scotland and most of the people here don’t get everything they’re saying. I wonder if it had subtitles when it was running in cinemas in the UK..

  4. “One film that must always be watched with subtitles on.” So true! But it’s a complete joy to watch (and read?) because it was as smart as it was insightful. It’s my favorite movie about drug addiction and the people caught in it. There was real sadness behind its sense of humor.

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