Trainspotting. I watched this film last night. I've heard a lot about the 1996 cult film, but I had never seen it. Typically, movies about addiction are not movies that I seek out. I find them depressing. Days of Wine and Roses and The Lost Weekend were excellent films about alcoholism and while I liked those films, I don't think I'd need to watch them again. With Trainspotting however, I think I would watch the film again. I don't know if I'd necessarily pop the film in just randomly for background noise like I do with other films, but in the right mood and setting (a time when I'm in the mood for something a little gritty and late night), I would re-watch Trainspotting. I feel like it's one of those films where I'd get just a little more out of it than I did the time prior.
Trainspotting deals with a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh, Scotland. Ewan McGregor stars as Mark Renton, an addict who really wants to get it together and get clean. Others in the group are Sick Boy (a con artist), Spud (a slow witted, but nice guy), Tommy (a star athlete), and Begbie (a nutcase with anger management issues). The other men in the group are not as keen on cleaning up their act as Renton is. It's only until Renton leaves Edinburgh and his friends that his life is beginning to turn around. After this, there is one last hurrah (if you want to call it a "hurrah") for the men before it seems that Renton will finally be rid of them for good--at least until T2:Trainspotting comes around 20 years later.
I really liked this film. It was aesthetically very interesting. It was gritty and had a bit of a punk feel to it. The characters are supposed to reside in a lower class area of Edinburgh and the look of the film definitely conveys that. The film looks dirty. It looks like the type of place that if you were to walk into it in real life, you'd instantly feel uncomfortable and that you don't belong there. The style (or perhaps lack thereof) was very effective. I also thought that the characters were dressed well. Renton is always seen in clothes that seem a little too small or clothes that seem old. He is also very thin and always looks strung out until he actually starts getting it together. Sick Boy is always dressed a little "fancier" (so to speak) than the others, because he's a con artist. He conveys an image of being somewhat upstanding, only to screw the person over in the end. Tommy, the star athlete, is always wearing athletic wear. The young girl whom Ewan McGregor sleeps with in the film (and whom he did not know was a young girl) is dressed in slinky sequin slip dresses when she sneaks out to the nightclubs, but this is juxtaposed with the school girl outfit she wears when she's supposed to be the squeaky clean 14 year old at home.
There are a lot of tragedies present in this film. Many of these tragedies are realistic in a drug addict's life. One of the drug addicts who lives in the home has a baby. The baby dies and nobody even notices for a couple days. I would assume that the baby probably died of starvation. One of the addicts ends up contacting HIV from sharing needles. Renton almost dies from a heroin overdose.
One of the most infamous scenes from this film involves Renton and the most disgusting toilet in Scotland. I had actually seen this scene before but had not seen it in its context within the film. This scene is disgusting. Why is that toilet even in service? For as gross as the scene is, it was also very interesting--visually. It shows Renton in major distress, needing to find a bathroom, stat. Apparently, when you're a heroin addict, you become constipated. When you decide to go off of the heroin and go into the withdrawal period, you suddenly become NOT constipated--leaving you with a small window to find an appropriate "convenience" in time to relieve yourself of your considerable gastrointestinal distress, before it's too late. Unfortunately, Renton comes across the most vile, the most disgusting toilet that has ever lived. It is covered in god knows what (apparently, it was different kinds of melted chocolate, so the bathroom was actually delicious and not atrocious as it looked on screen) and not only does Renton have to use it, he actually dives into it head first, when he realizes that he's lost his opium suppositories that he had inserted prior to needing to go to the bathroom. The thought of not only having to use that toilet, but having to search through your own excrement (better than someone else's, I guess) to find pills is disgusting and really goes to show the lengths that addicts will go through to get their fix. The scene of Renton swimming underwater (supposedly inside the toilet) was pretty trippy, as was the scene of him sinking through the floor when he overdoses.
I do wonder though, Renton didn't have to go to jail (for stealing from the bookstore) because he was participating in a drug rehabilitation program. He overdoses pretty much immediately after his court date. Do the courts never find out about this lapse? Do his parents keep it on the DL? Because after this, they lock him in his room and force him to dry out.
This was a great film that I would watch again. It had enough humor, drama and visually interesting scenes that it made it enjoyable to watch. I look forward to seeing the sequel, T2: Trainspotting, that came out earlier this year.