Trainspotting Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big fucking television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electric tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage payments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite and higher purchase a wide range of fucking fabrics. Choose D.I.Y. and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting in a large couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows stuffing fucking junk food in your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish fucked-up brats you've sworn to replace yourself. Choose your future, choose life. But why would you want to do a thing like that? I choose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who need reasons when you've got heroin?

"Trainspotting", director Danny Boyle's follow-up to his earlier effort "Shallow Grave", takes its name from the a leisure activity of so many Scottish youth, identifying trains and having the schedules memorized. A fitting metaphor for heroin addiction-- something that kills time but achieves absolutely nothing-- much like this film.

Granted, I was interested in this film because I was impressed by "Shallow Grave" and because I actually deal with heroin addicts as part of my work, but unfortunately, this film ended up like a bad trip. It is what I would term a 'travelogue' story-- it doesn't say much, but it does take you places where you normally wouldn't go-- which ends up being the only 'point' of the movie (much like "Pulp Fiction"). The story follows the trials and tribulations of Mark Renton and his on-again off-again heroin addiction. And that's it. And it is hard to find sympathy for him, or any of the other characters. Sure, it opens up with a great leading shot of Renton and his friends outrunning the police, there are well-written monologues, some interesting camera angles, a surrealistic portrayal of withdrawal, a hilarious amphetamine-tainted job interview scene, some truly shocking moments, and lots of bits of interesting but useless information thrown at you during the 95 minutes, but underneath all this style, there is not substance. It is as superficial as it is stylish.

And one more thing: this film could have used more subtitles. The Scottish accents, slang, and lack of annunciation do get pretty thick in some parts, making it unintelligible.

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