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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘Trainspotting’: An Electrifying Depiction of Addiction and Personal Reclamation

Movie poster for the film Trainspotting starring Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle

“Trainspotting” (1996) is an alternatingly comedic, feverish and profoundly harrowing depiction of heroin addiction, lead by Ewan McGregor as Mark Renton, a hedonistic Scottish youth desperate to rid himself of his incessant fixation on narcotic escapism.

Renton runs roughshod through the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland alongside childhood mates “Sick Boy” (Johnny Lee Miller), “Tommy” (Kevin McKidd) and “Spud” (Ewen Bremner)—as well as their longtime protégé “Franco” (Robert Carlyle), a volatile psychopath whose good graces they desperately strive to engender. The group's ongoing exploits revolve heavily around alcohol, soccer, women and the ever-elusive yearning for escape into the realm of opioid-induced abandonment.

The storyline focuses largely on Renton’s desperate back-and-forth flights of abuse and withdrawal, captured with gusto and bold visual flourish by director Danny Boyle (“28 Days Later”, “Slumdog Millionaire”) and cinematographer Brian Tufano (“Quadrophenia”, ”Billy Elliot”). With a major soundtrack assist from the likes of Iggy Pop, New Order and Underworld, it’s a boisterous and immensely entertaining marriage of sight and sound.

Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, "Trainspotting" goes the full-length in delivering Renton’s trials and tribulations to the screen in a manic and darkly enjoyable fashion. A boldly visceral ode to a disenfranchised, thrill-seeking generation, it's a 90's-era classic and one of the very best films of the past 30 years.


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