Trainspotting. What comes to mind when I say that? For me, the title instantly conjures up a series of unforgettable images – a dive into the worst toilet in Scotland, a dead baby crawling on a ceiling, close-ups of heroin being injected into veins and an incessant, rapid-fire monologue that wrecks with wit and brilliance, all our banal life choices – like big television sets, low cholesterol, leisurewear and matching luggage, dental insurance. Mark Renton rejects it all. “I chose not to choose life. I chose something else,” he says. “And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”
Trainspotting, about friends who are glued together by drug addiction, was a generation-defining film. Its depiction of depraved youth in Scotland resonated not just in the UK but around the world. The film was made on a minuscule budget of 1.5 million pounds but it went on to gross over 48 million pounds worldwide. The writer John Hodge, received an Oscar nomination, for Best Adapted Screenplay – the film was based on Irvine Welsh’s seminal novel. Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle and released in 1996, was a genuine pop culture phenomenon.Many things went into making Trainspotting a cult classic – to begin with the unforgettable characters. The boys – Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, Begbie, Tommy – were instantly irresistible. I’m not sure that you would want to meet any of them in real life but on-screen, their camaraderie was hypnotic. In the haze of addiction, this gang does truly terrible things but the film doesn’t judge them. You can’t dislike them. Except perhaps for Begbie who ironically, is the one character who refuses to take drugs.
Trainspotting, about friends who are glued together by drug addiction, was a generation-defining film. Its depiction of depraved youth in Scotland resonated not just in the UK but around the world. The film was made on a minuscule budget of 1.5 million pounds but it went on to gross over 48 million pounds worldwide.
Boyle captured the giddy highs of heroin but he didn’t look away from the shocking darkness that is inevitable when life is reduced to the next hit. Ewan McGregor was captivating as Renton – he made the character relatable. The supporting cast matched his charm – Jonny Lee Miller as the suave Sick Boy, Robert Carlyle as the psychopath Begbie and Ewen Bremner as the goofy, always fumbling Spud.
The writing and acting was propelled by Boyle’s dazzling storytelling. The director married an audacious, lurid style with a popping soundtrack, which included artists like Iggy Pop and Underworld. The film combined grim humor with ferocious joy. You knew this wouldn’t end well and yet, while it lasts, it’s exhilarating.
In 2017, more than twenty years after Trainspotting, Boyle created the sequel called T2 Trainspotting. What happened to the wild bunch? Did the years force them to grow up? After the great climactic betrayal of the first film, do Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie come back together again?
Find out by catching the Indian television premiere of T2 Trainspotting on March 31st – only on Privé HD.
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