I’ll try not to let the fact that Danny Boyle is one of my favorite directors to color this review, but it’s just so hard to when just about everything that Boyle does right in a film is on prime display here, with his breakout film Trainspotting. The film details the lives and times of a group of heroin addicts and their buddies in Scotland, and indeed I may need to emphasize that this is a Scottish film, complete with the accents and demeanor (particularly Begbie).
For me, the cast is the highlight of the film. Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, and Robert Carlyle are but three of the names that this will make ring in your head, and all three got their big break with this film, and rightly so. The script is dynamite, full of life and style, and carries the film along easily through its short hour-and-a-half runtime. All the technicals are just about right for the budget this film was made on, and the filmmakers use some clever tricks and camera angles to get the feel they that want. But for me, the star of this film is the soundtrack; incredibly eclectic, and always making sure the film is interesting even in the slower bits. I’ve mentioned before, but I’m a big techno geek, and this film’s soundtrack hit me in all the right ways. Even if you’re not a fan of techno, you have to appreciate its ability to keep a beat going and keep a pulse alive, and that’s just what Trainspotting does with its use of music.
The one thing that may ruffle a few feathers of some viewers is the redeemability of the characters, particularly Renton. As likable as the film manages to make these chaps, when you really think about what they’ve done, what they’re doing, and what each of them is responsible for (again, particularly Renton), you’ll realize their redemptive factor is nigh rock bottom. There’s not a good thing any of these people do in the whole film; the end of the film has Renton admitting that he’s a bad person, and I won’t spoil what he does, but he proves himself correct when you think about it, though he does append his statement saying that he has resolved to change himself for the better, though to what end and to what degree is up for debate since there’s little evidence given that he will indeed change for the better. I didn’t mind it much, mostly because the film was so upbeat about its subject matter and characterization, but I know a few people that won’t be willing to overlook it, so I thought it figured a mention.
If you haven’t seen this incredible sophomore effort from Boyle, there’s no better time than now. I was more than thrilled to see this make the must see list, and I believe it completely deserves to be there; there’s just so much to like about the film – again, even with the moral ambiguity of the main characters. This wasn’t the film that made me a fan of Danny Boyle, but it was one of the films that cemented his status in my mind, and if you’re looking for a way to get to know Boyle in the best of ways, Trainspotting is certainly one of the better ways to go.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10