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Trainspotting (1996)

Never let your friends tie you to the tracks.

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


Ewan McGregor stars as Mark 'Rent Boy' Renton, a youthful Edinburgh heroin addict who is on a downward spiral of drugs and crime. He frequently wants to quit, and tries to do so from time to time, but always seems to succumb to just one more hit in order to cope with his life. With his friends, he is trapped in a seedy urban underworld in spite of the efforts of his family to get him clean, even against his will. Underneath it all, however, Mark is still seeking to make more of his life, and finds himself facing a choice – staying with his friends in his familiar environment or making a complete break and starting again.

With that in mind, Mark sets out for London to make his fortune, and at first he does well – he successfully gets a job in a property lettings agency and starts to pursue his new life. However, his old friends won't leave him alone. First to arrive from Edinburgh is violent alcoholic Begbie, who is on the run after an armed robbery gone wrong. Soon Mark realises that his old life is going to be hard to leave behind. When the possibility of a major heroin deal tempts the others, Mark finds it impossible to isolate himself from his friends. As he is the only one of the group they all trust to test the drugs, he is also going to have to face temptation again, the hard way.

Based on the 1993 Irvine Welsh novel of the same name, 'Trainspotting' is a gritty, realistic look at the world of the urban drug addict. Although the subject matter could be off-putting, in this film it is handled with surprising sensitivity, neither glamorising drug use nor condemning it. Instead of being a film about drugs, it is really about the characters, all of which are fully developed and extremely well played by an outstanding cast. Young Ewan McGregor shows astonishing emotional depth in this, the breakthrough role that made him an international star – tragic though Mark's circumstances are, there is also a wry humour to it that McGregor communicates effectively. The look of the film, and its direction, perfectly portray both the gritty reality of addiction and the surreal aspects of an addict's life.

It's Got: Earthy but appealing characters, especially Ewan McGregors Mark Renton.

It Needs: To be avoided by those with weak stomachs.

DVD Extras An extensive collection of extras accompany this Definitive Edition two-disc set. Extras: Directors commentary, Deleted scenes, The Beginning, Retrospective features, Trainspotting at Cannes, Theatrical trailers, Cast and crew biographies, Galleries. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


Gritty and raw but appealing and even entertaining examination of wasted lives and drug addiction. Not to be missed.