Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

"A brash, stylish piece, bursting with energy."

I hated the "Hollywood, your time is up" hype, because it was just irritating bluster. That said, Trainspotting is undoubtedly the most important film to come out of the UK since the days of Handmade films.

It's a brash, stylish piece, bursting with energy. It is less about heroin and more about all forms of escape: into drink, sex, violence, music, films, football - or just into a comfortable conventional life. Heroin is just another (more extreme) alternative.

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On release, the film was criticised for glamorising drugs. This is nonsense. These are the feistiest bunch of junkies ever committed to film. You can almost smell the stubborn understains. As for Ewan McGregor, I just wanted to run him through the boil wash - he's that convincing in this film.

The rest of the cast are good too - Robert Carlyle as Begbie is a lot more scary than he was as Renard in the The World Is Not Enough. If 007 had encountered Begbie, he would have ended up with his laser watch up the bahookie.

The film reminded me of those films made in the wake of A Hard Day's Night in which Barry Evans ran across council estates to get Judy Geeson pregnant (British actresses were very fertile in those days.) But it's more reminiscent of Alfie in that both films have an exuberance and humour which stand in contrast to the subject.

With its witty script, cool soundtrack and boundless energy, Trainspotting is a hard film to dislike - but a hard film to get emotional about either. With the exception of Tommy the fitness freak, there is little sense of tragedy in the waste of life. Drugs may mean death, but a life without drugs is portrayed as a living death. That sort of cynicism dulls the emotions, with the result that when it was all over I found myself impressed, but unmoved.

Still, you have to be grateful for the shot in the arm (pardon the pun) that Trainspotting gave the domestic film industry. As it turned out, Hollywood's time wasn't up, but maybe ours is just beginning.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Black comic drama about the Edinburgh drugs scene. On re-release.
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Read more Trainspotting reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray *****

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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