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1996: Trainspotting

Cover of "Trainspotting (Ws)"

Cover of Trainspotting (Ws)

Trainspotting, focuses around the character, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), who, whilst living in Edinburgh, becomes taken in by the drug scene, becoming addicted to heroin. The story portrays Renton’s life, and how he tries his best to escape the life of a drug addict, despite major influences affecting him for the worse, including his friends, and of course, drugs.

The movie begins, showing the day-to-day lives of Renton and his friends: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller),  Tommy (Kevin McKidd), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). This movie is a great portrayal of drugs, and how they can ruin lives, adversely affecting  relationships with everyone around you, especially with family and friends. Together, Renton, and his friends, each with their own erratic and drug-dependent personalities, live their lives, finding money through any means necessary, so they can get another ‘hit’; except for Tommy, although he soon becomes a bit too curious about the enjoyable effects of heroin..

After realising that his friends and surroundings, along with the drugs, are destroying his life, Renton eventually, after failed attempts, gives up on heroin for good, and moves away, living in a new house, with a job. But his friends soon find their way back in to his life and eventually, begin dragging him down once again.

The movie ends with one of the gang finding a huge amount of heroin for a surprising price, and instead of using it, they sell it, to try to make a fortune. However, things don’t turn out great, with Begbie,who, being the crazy person he is, ends up beating a man in a pub for accidentally bumping into him, whilst in the process, slicing Spud’s hand. Renton, from seeing this, along with many other events through his life, comes to realise that, apart from Spud, these people really aren’t his friends at all. Renton then ends up stealing the money, which seems fair enough, seeing as though he paid for the heroin in the first place due to Begbie pressuring him to do so. He then walks away with the money, and begins a normal life, like he once imagined.

The movie is full of classic scenes; particularly when Renton decides to go ‘cold turkey’, with a very interesting insight into what a heroin addict experiences when they instantly give up heroin, showing just how dependant an individual becomes on such a drug. Also, the scene in which Renton takes an overdose and almost dies, is a very capturing and emotional scene, combined with Lou Reed‘s song, ‘Perfect Day‘. The movie is full of scenes which draw you into the whole concept of a drug addict’s life, allowing you to almost experience the emotions and viewpoints attributed with, although seemingly enjoyable at first, an incredibly unfortunate lifestyle.

Trainspotting, has a dark and dingy outlook on life, through the eyes of an habitual drug user, turning to drugs to try to escape this dingy view on life, but soon realising that their addiction is in fact, making their lives worse than they could have imagined. There are many movies which delve into the lives of drug users, many of which often seem to be disappointing and inaccurate portrayals. However, Trainspotting, has a realistic and empathetic expression of it, and this is helped with the great acting from the cast, along with the directing skills of Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s definitely one to put on the ‘Movies to Watch Before you Die’ list.

By Manpreet Singh

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