Depending on the time of day, Trainspotting holds either the second or first position among my favorite films of all time. Danny Boyle truly crafted a masterpiece in his harrowing yet darkly comedic and poignant tale about a clique of heroin addicts in Edinburgh during the 90’s. From the very first time I watched this film it made a powerful impression on me that only a select number of films have been able to do. It’s got everything you want in a film, from comedy to the most heart-wrenching and horrific scenes with one of the most incredible soundtracks to accompany the madness, Trainspotting’s got it all and why it receives my reverence.
Being entirely honest, I’ve only seen Trainspotting a few times, the reason being that it takes an emotional toll on me everything I watch it. But it’s not like Blue Valentine where I sit in an utter-depressive state reflecting on what I just watched, instead when I finish watching Trainspotting it feels like I’m inundated by an assault that contains a mixed bag of emotions range that extends from wonder to sadness, confidence to depression, and energy to fear. While I love films that treat their themes subtly, I admire the in-your-approach Danny Boyle takes with this project, submerging into the heavenly disguised Hell Renton and his mates live in. Thinking about the film, there’s no other way of depicting what Irvine Welsh described to accurately in his novel. Not only is Boyle’s work a piercing submergence into the hazey drug-infused lives Renton and his mates live in, but it’s also an incredible adaptation that does a fantastic job in providing a realist’s approach of social-commentary when it comes to dealing with the topic of addiction. It’s a film that clearly understands what it’s doing and where it’s going, finding a way to perfectly navigate the difficult terrain laid before it.
Another great faculty that brings Trainspotting that energetic quality by which we remember it, is Brian Tufano’s cinematography. Embracing the limited budget and stringing marvels from it, Tufano seems to act as the spirit of Welsh’s novel inhabiting a camera. Everything he does is practically perfect and I can’t go without mentioning the brilliance he summons in the scene depicting Renton’s cleansing process where he manages to do so much with a single room. His work is truly wondrous and could’ve definitely been nominated for an Oscar instead of Fly Away Home that year. For that matter, Trainspotting could’ve been nominated in more than a single category, but it’s foolish to dwell in an unchangeable path and I shall now move on to a different facet of this film.
The acting, everyone in this film commits 110% to their roles. Ewan McGregor delivers a career-best in what I like to see as his interpretation of Alex DeLarge in a 90’s drug-fueled landscape where all he has or rather all that really matters at this point is heroin. Then you’ve got a performance I believe goes rather unmentioned, that of Ewen Bremner’s turn as Spud. Seriously, they could not have gotten anyone better for the role, Bremner perfectly captures who Spud is both in physicality and in character. Jonny Lee Miller’s Sick Boy is always great, as is the case of McKidd’s Tommy. Kelly Macdonald’s debut performance in something out of this world that reminds of the talent Jodie Foster displayed at such a young age in Taxi Driver. Last but not least, Robert Caryle delivers a powerhouse performance as Begbie, a extremely violent-tempered human being that declares heroin addicts to be the scum of the Earth while wreaking even worse terror than they do in his drunkeness, simply for the pleasure he derives from committing such malevolent acts. Then again, another thing about this film that always perplexes me is the fact that each of the characters in it is a despicable human being and somehow Boyle and Hodge manage to humanize. I have no idea how they did it, but in doing so they’ve given me the backbone ot one of my favorite films of all time.
Trainspotting is a work of wonders that speaks to the pessimistic reality of drugs, crafts an intelligent story regarding the world these people have decided to habituate and presenting in it an unusual assaulting fashion that works perfectly for a film like this. Brian Tufano’s cinematography is incredible and aligned with Boyle’s sensibilities as a director makes a truly unique visual tour de force. Everyone performer in this film truly gives themselves to their characters, especially Ewan McGregor who delivers one of his best performances in Renton. Trainspotting’s distinct look at this maddening aspect of modern civilization is something to celebrate, the film is a powerhouse in every single aspect you look at it from, it’s a true masterpiece and one of my favorite films of all time.