A Summary and Review of Trainspotting

A Summary and Review of Trainspotting

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  1. Striking a balance between the uproariously funny and the disgustingly tragic becomes the primary challenge for any director looking to make comedy out of human suffering. Drug use is an especially ripe subject for filmmakers looking to tread this uneasy line. All the excitement of an illegal, hedonistic lifestyle eventually caves in to the heartbreaking reality of addiction. And there’s perhaps no better example of the volatile drug comedy genre than Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting

    Drawing down comedy to its darkest shade of black, Trainspotting follows young heroin addict Renton (played by a lithe, effervescent Ewan McGregor) as he struggles to situate his own identity within Edinburgh’s gritty drug scene. Surrounded by similarly addicted friends and a startling wealth of quality junk, Renton initially rejects the idea that a clean-cut capitalistic lifestyle is the gateway to real happiness. But when unprecedented tragedy begins to infiltrate his happy-go-lucky group, he reconsiders his dependence on the drug that dominates his life. 

    A talented cast animates a colorful roster of characters, from McGregor’s boyish, indecisive Renton to Ewen Bremner’s subtle and pathos-ridden performance as Spud. The ensemble works wonders to make viewers uncomfortable while simultaneously making them laugh as they crack along down John Hodge’s quick whip of a script. Filled to the brim with humor, both scatological and high-brow, it’s Trainspotting‘s funniest moments that make its darker moments so especially brutal. There are scenes within this 1996 classic that will never go down smooth, no matter how many times you re-watch them. Boyle excels at pulling out discrete moments of utter repulsion, calling on horror tropes to illustrate the real-world grotesqueries of Renton’s nasty habit. Trainspotting is a film that will wreck you–but that won’t stop you from going back to it again and again.

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