Choose Life, Choose Trainspotting

Trainspotting is a entertaining trip about the wonderful highs and soul crushing lows that come along with being a junkie.


Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Johnny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Ewen Bremer and Kelly MacDonald

Written by: John Hodge

Distributed by: Polygram Filmed Entertainment

Directed by: Danny Boyle

93 minutes.

Hello, my name is Steph and I am a junkie… a film junkie. While I may not go head first into the worst toilet in Scotland to watch a film, I have most definitely devoted an unhealthy amount of hours to staring at screens in darkened rooms, wrapped up in a fantasy world I will never be part of.

This is the brilliance of director Danny Boyle’s (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire) second-ever feature; while any reasonable person would never watch Trainspotting and say to themselves “Hey! Let’s all go do some heroin!” it’s damn near impossible not to be affected by this story of a gang of junkies in 90’s Edinburgh.

Benefiting from being released in the heyday of Miramax pictures, Trainspotting not only helped cement Boyle as a director to watch; the film also launched the Hollywood career of the man who would go on to become Obi-Won Kenobi, Ewan McGregor. A smart script adapted from the Irvine Welsh novel of the same name and great supporting cast (including Johnny Lee Miller, who I had completely written off until his disturbing arch on Dexter last year) aside, this film would be absolutely nothing without McGregor’s performance. McGregor plays Marc Renton, a twenty something who revels in his rejection of societal norms. McGregor’s witty line readings have gone on to become part of the pop culture vernacular.

What makes Trainspotting a great film and not just another too cool for school indie is its approach to the depiction of a life of a junkie. There are absolutely amazing scenes glamorizing drug life, such as the opening montage where Renton declares his motto of NOT choosing life.

But the film is careful to point out the other side of addiction as well. “Living like this is a full time business” Renton tells us, and to get a high that’s like the best orgasm you’ve ever had times 1,000… you have to do a lot of robbing, stealing and fucking people over. Sometimes the various ways in which Renton and the gang fuck people over in the name of their habit are played to comedic effect, like pooping the bed or robbing an American tourist. But the moment you see the baby dead in its crib from starvation, you realize just how much these are not characters whose choices you should idolize.

Is Trainspotting the greatest drug movie ever made? No. The film never reaches the epic proportions of The Big Lebowski say, and I wish the soundtrack had less techno and more Iggy Pop. But it is a completely engaging and entertaining portrait of people you would most definitely never want to meet in a back alley on a Saturday night.

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