Movie Monday: Trainspotting


Ahhh, Scotland. Home to rolling hills, colourful cities and stunning landscapes, it’s a fine example of what it means to be privileged with the great outdoors.

But not for everyone.

Meet Renton (Ewan McGregor), SickBoy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewan Bremner), Tommy (Kevin McKidd) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) – Scotland’s most helpless, volatile and drug-dependent men.

“There was no such thing as society and if even there was I most certainly had nothing to do with it” – Renton

Having spent years dabbling in Class-A drugs and swimming in unholy amounts of alcohol, Renton finally calls it quits and vows to get clean. With the non-existent help of his friends, Mark soon turns back to his trusty old friend, heroin, and becomes embroiled in a whirlwind of mistakes. Big mistakes.

While the rest of the group, except Begbie and do-gooder Tommy, continue with their dangerous lifestyles; taking drugs as a means of escape from lives of unemployment, degradation and failure – Renton realises there is more to life than what he currently has and finally takes a stand.

“Sick Boy is seriously lacking in moral fiber” – Renton

Trainspotting is famed for its raw approach in the depiction of the men – crumbling under the pressures of modern life and existing without the presence of drugs. It’s edgy and strikes an emotional chord that makes you feel sorry for all involved, despite their clear lack of motivation to change. Robberies, rehabilitation and relationships become safe havens for the men as they embark on a path to renew their lives and provide fresh perspective – but for some, it doesn’t end well.

The film deals with the aftermath of drugs, alcohol, violence and sexuality, uncovering the consequences of toxic masculinity and displays of ultimate manly portrayal – and behind all this, is arguably the most intriguing character of the film, Begbie.

Stating his clear choices to not poison himself with drugs, Begbie is a man fuelled by alcohol and rage, coupled with a ferocious temper and an appetite for violence. If a fight can be had, if a punch can be launched – Begbie is first in the queue.

“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a starter home. Choose dental insurance, leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose your future. But why would anyone want to do a thing like that?”

A film renowned for its tender approach, Trainspotting is largely considered to be a cinematic masterpiece of the 20th century. Witty, relatable and humorous in all the wrong places, Danny Boyle’s work is finely tuned with its characters and their unfavourable lives.

If you’re a fan of exceedingly dark humour, raw emotions and the odd punch-up – Trainspotting is a film for you. Full to the brim of catastrophic events and failures, it’s not a watch for the faint-hearted but it certainly packs a punch even Begbie would approve of.

Words by Paige Bradshaw


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