Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"Its comedy leaps barricades."

Heroin is oblivion's angel. It also kills. Trainspotting makes no concessions to suburban sensibilities. "I choose not to choose life," Renton quips. "Reasons? There are no reasons. Who wants reasons when you have heroin?"

These scallywags are sharp and funny and high on degradation. They don't sound like losers, even if they are, and if they are, who cares? They don't.

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The team that made Shallow Grave - producer Andrew Macdonald, director Danny Boyle, writer John Hodge - has taken Irvine Welsh's renowned Edinburgh novel and injected it with a rebel romance that uses humour to offset the gut-wrenching desperation of waking on a vomit-soaked mattress, with someone else's baby wailing like a skinned kitten and the smell of urine hanging like mustard gas over a gunged-out attic.

The scudding honesty of Welsh's writing is non-judgemental. Its comedy leaps barricades. Boyle's film succeeds in equating conflicting movie strands - the madcap druggie romp, the magic realism trip, the docu-drama, the hardcore morality tale - with convincing dexterity. It is the best Scottish film since Silent Scream, a work of genuine imagination.

The early phase is playtime, despite horrendous living conditions. The junkie japesters' antics turn them into heroes of the underclass. Even when Spud (Ewen Bremner) messes his girlfriend's mother's sheets after a heavy night on the illegal substances, it is pure farce. The later phase is bleak.

Renton (Ewan McGregor) has fled to London and a proper job. He is followed by Begbie (Robert Carlyle), a heidbanger on the run after committing armed robbery, and the others, looking less and less waggish as the harsh wind of the rest of their lives blows icy through a friendless foreign city.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Black comic drama about the Edinburgh drugs scene. On re-release.
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Symon Parsons ****

Director: Danny Boyle

Writer: Irvine Welsh, John Hodge

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Susan Vidler, Pauline Lynch

Year: 1996

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK


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