Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy

Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Being young, working class and Scottish can feel, to a lot of people, like being set up for failure. Breaking out is hard, Choose life, they say. Stand on your own two feet. Get on your bike. Don't expect something for nothing. Of course, the easiest way to go into business if you're young and poor is to set yourself up in the black market. There are always jobs for guys who're willing to beat people up, to sell drugs, or to risk their lives carrying those drugs across borders in uncomfortable cavities. So that's what Lloyd does. Mixing business and pleasure is ecstasy.

If ever there were a way to set a film up for failure, this is it. It's billed like the next Trainspotting, with a pastiche of that film's adverts one more step removed from the point. Translating it from a rather less successful book, whose stories have been awkwardly combined into one, was never going to be easy, and we can probably be grateful that some of the most gratuitously tacky elements of that book have been removed. But in the process a lot of the personality and tension has been removed too. Now everything relies on the threatening presence of an angry hard man who's dealing big money but still has to do his own dirty work. We watch Lloyd squirming, trying to get out from under his thumb. When he's not mooning over his new girlfriend or out of his face on E, that is.

Copy picture

It would seem fairest to judge this film on its own merits but that's hard when it's trying so self-consciously to be Trainspotting, and director Rob Heydon is no Danny Boyle. The visual flair and the energy are missing. The thing about smackheads is that, whilst they may be tedious when under the influence, in between times their desperation gives them some energy. Heydon is actually very good, in places, at conjuring up the sensation of E - but being around people in that state when sober oneself is never the most exciting of experiences. And if you try seeing this film whilst under the influence you'll struggle all the more with the poor pacing in other sections.

There are some interesting elements here, mostly revolving around Lloyd's role as a carer for his bereaved, alcoholic father; and Kristin Kreuk provides both beauty and emotional weight as the girl who steals our hero's heart. But none of those involved is really up to saving a film that lacks a real voice of its own.

Ecstasy could certainly have been worse, but you could choose a more interesting way to spend your evening.

Reviewed on: 20 Jan 2012
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A young Edinburgh man struggles to escape the grip of a brutal drug dealer while falling in love with a Canadian woman.
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Director: Rob Heydon

Writer: Rob Heydon, Matt MacLennan, Paul McCafferty, Ben Tucker, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh

Starring: Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk, Billy Boyd, Carlo Rota, Ashley Pover, Keram Malicki-Sánchez, Olivia Andrup, Natalie Brown, Stephen McHattie, Dean McDermott, Alex Lifeson, Luke Gordon, Stefen Hayes, Colin Mochrie, Shaun Austin-Olsen

Year: 2011

Runtime: 99 minutes

Country: Canada


Glasgow 2012

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