Trainspotting (1996)
October 10, 2022 8:49 AM - Subscribe

Heroin addict Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) stumbles through bad ideas and sobriety attempts with his unreliable friends -- Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Tommy (Kevin McKidd). He also has an underage girlfriend, Diane (Kelly Macdonald), along for the ride. After cleaning up and moving from Edinburgh to London, Mark finds he can't escape the life he left behind when Begbie shows up at his front door on the lam, and a scheming Sick Boy follows.

Also starring Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Susan Vidler, Pauline Lynch, and Shirley Henderson.

Directed by Danny Boyle. Written by James Hodge.

90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Showtime and Starz. Also available for digital rental on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Trainspotting is an amazing balancing act between intensely difficult subject matter and a tone and style that is wildly entertaining. I don’t fully understand how Danny Boyle did it. It manages to portray heroin addiction as a horrible, life-destroying force, but with a sense of whimsy about it? How does that even work? But it DOES!
posted by wabbittwax at 11:10 AM on October 10, 2022 [5 favorites]

Kelly Macdonald showed up in the new Babak Anvari film, I Came By, doing great work, as always.

She was also the lead, Merida, in Pixar's Brave.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:22 AM on October 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

It has a couple of fantastic soundtrack albums.
posted by jedicus at 11:44 AM on October 10, 2022 [3 favorites]

I visited London in June 1996, and this film and its marketing was EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t watch it in the States until a year later, and I didn’t “get” it until I had my own drug-mediated psychosis and dysphoric recovery.

Who makes a “healthy, informed, democratic decision to get back on drugs as soon as possible?” People who have mistaken their initial decision to use for whimsy who are desperately trying to chase whatever made them feel lighthearted like that in the first place, no matter how wrong they may be about what actually brought forth that sense of freedom and self-actualization.

“It looks easy, this, but it's not. It looks like a doss, like a soft option, but living like this, it's a full-time business.” Any whimsy in this film and its sequel, for me, is disguised nihilism and misplaced self-harm. I haven’t seen many happy endings in addiction, but I’ve seen a good many fortunate continuances alongside a few sad endings. Now when I watch it, I find a lot more in common with these miserable people, and I’m grateful I don’t choose to live or die like that.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:00 PM on October 10, 2022 [6 favorites]

“It looks easy, this, but it's not. It looks like a doss, like a soft option, but living like this, it's a full-time business.”

Or as Jim Carroll put it, "Junk is just another nine to five gig in the end, only the hours are a bit more inclined towards shadows."
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:20 PM on October 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

It does a good job of showing how junkies can be friends and lovers, but that junk will always trump any relationship.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:51 PM on October 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

I think Robert Carlyle as Begbie is one of the all time great screen performances.
posted by emd3737 at 6:37 PM on October 10, 2022 [9 favorites]

It has a couple of fantastic soundtrack albums.
Not only did the filmmakers select great songs for the soundtrack but they used them to spectacular effect.. The opening uses Iggy's "Lust for Life" brilliantly and nobody is ever going to hear Lou Reed's "A Perfect Day" in precisely the same way after seeing this movie.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:50 PM on October 10, 2022 [5 favorites]

T2 Trainspotting (2017) is a pretty good epilogue.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:39 AM on October 11, 2022

The worst toilet in Scotland still haunts me.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 5:05 PM on October 11, 2022 [3 favorites]

The theatrical adaptation of Knuffle Bunny has a kid friendly nod to Trainspotting in which Daddy dives into the bowels of a dryer and battles laundry demons.
posted by brujita at 9:03 AM on October 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

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