Trainspotting (1996)

Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by John Hodge based on the novel by Irvine Welsh
(number 324)

Content warning for bad things happening to animals and babies.

I mean, I feel like the opening sequence is pretty much the zeitgeist:

“Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”

I never managed to see this film before. I remember by brother bringing it home from the video shop and suggesting (having watched it himself) that Mum and I watch it. Mum watched it without me (possibly I told her to) and then it went back to the shop. I just never really felt the need to see this. Knowing what I did about it – drugs, someone dives into a toilet…and that’s sorta it? It’s one of these movies which when I tell people I haven’t seen it they look at me like WHAT? and also… it’s one of the ones on the list I figured I probably should see when I was first going through and checking things off (seen, not seen).

So, I watched it on an overly hot Wednesday early evening while Anna was out at the rehearsal dinner for her sister’s wedding. The opening and the first half hour are pretty great (gross out poo jokes aside), and poor old Renton getting taken in by a school girl who wanted him. An event happens 40 minutes in which makes everything rather more real and horrible. I saw it coming. Didn’t make it any easier when it happened.

There’s some very clever special effects in this movie. The sequence where Renton’s in his childhood bedroom detoxing is probably my favourite. The movement of the walls, the weirdness of his hallucinations. I really rated that bit.

Does it make me love the people? Yes, damnit. Ewan Macgregor is just so adorable, so charismatic that I cared about him right away. Tommy as well, they’ve got such chemistry on screen and you want to care about them. Spud, although rather gormless is generally the well meaning victim in other people’s drama and I care about him too.

Robert Carlisle does a stunning job as a totally unloveable asshole, so props but no love there.

Bechdel test: Lizzy, Gail, Diane and Allison are all named characters, but they don’t talk to each other, except once in the lady’s loos two women talk about withholding sex as a tactic learned in cosmopolitan but I don’t think they counts as it is about men explicitly.

Best line:

Tommy: Doesn’t it make you proud to be Scottish?
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: It’s SHITE being Scottish! We’re the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are COLONIZED by wankers. Can’t even find a decent culture to be colonized BY. We’re ruled by effete arseholes. It’s a SHITE state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and ALL the fresh air in the world won’t make any fucking difference!

State of Mind: Generally I quite enjoyed that. I didn’t love the poo flying everywhere at the start but once that was done it’s a really good, solid movie. Reminded me of a couple that came later on like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or The Angel’s Share. Cleverly written, quite beautifully shot and with a killer soundtrack. I am pleasantly surprised.

Watched movie count


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