Courtesy photo

Directed by Danny Boyle

Starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremmer, Jonny Lee Miller

This film is on the Best of 1996 list.


Opens: July 26,1996 | Rated: R

The first thing that must be said about "Trainspotting," is that this is not a movie to take your mother to. Or a first date. This is not a movie for everybody by any stretch of the imagination.

The second thing that must be said about "Trainspotting," is that it is brilliant. Wickedly funny, sick, insightful, depressing, dirty, unjudging, awesomely acted and brilliant.

Director Danny Boyle ("Shallow Grave") gives this gritty story of a hip young Scottish heroin addict and his shoot-up pals a relentless pacing that lets the audience share his character's instability.

He uses hallucinations, dreams and visual allusions like a punk Jean Cocteau. And while the film is being marketed in the U.S. partially on its uber cool soundtrack, the songs in "Trainspotting" are so much a part of the story telling that they're almost characters unto themselves.

Ewan McGregor stars as Renton, a 20-ish, working class Scot and self-proclaimed "bad person" who spends much of his life getting high.

He steals money from his mother and televisions from retirement homes to support his habit, and with his friends Sick Boy and Spud (Jonny Lee Miller, a dead ringer for Green Day's Billy Joe and Ewen Bremmer, both from "Shallow Grave"), spends his days pursuing what pleasures they can amongst their cynicism and angst.

Renton and company all try to come down a few times through the course of the film, and that's really what the movie is about -- which life to choose.

Renton's narration is what drives "Trainspotting" -- sort of a storytelling by way of internal turmoil -- and this voice-over, as well as the rest of the dialogue, is engaging. Not a word is wasted.

Some of the comedy is sick stuff, and Boyle goes too far in one scene involving diarrhea. (Lovely, no?) But as I've said, this isn't a movie for everyone.

Beyond the twisted humor, there is unsettling realism in the drug scenes and two deaths that are deliberately indelicate.

But for all it's shock value and sick humor, "Trainspotting" is a masterpiece of low-budget film-making, and it lets the audience do the thinking. Easily one of the best films of the year.

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