At the end of last year, I read and watched Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and I wrote an extensive paper about it. During that research, I read an article that compared it to the novel by Irvine Welsh called Trainspotting, due to the time period in which they were released, and the way that both examine addiction—one related to music and one to drugs. Both movies were turned into films.
All I knew about Trainspotting going into it was that it is a hard, raw film about the 1990s British drug culture. That is an understatement. It is quite harsh, horrific, and incredibly difficult to watch at times.
Renton (Ewan MacGregor) is a heroin addict who is reluctantly trying to get out of the lifestyle, but just cannot seem to get out of it. At times, he truly wants to escape, yet he keeps going back to it. He sets up an extensive arrangement for himself to wean himself off of it, then ends up doing, “just one more hit” in preparation. This cycle continues, with many abrasive interludes to a somewhat hopeful conclusion, albeit tempered by betrayal.
The few interesting moments are when they argue the merits of the early James Bond films—this is a motif throughout the film.
I understand why this would be on a list of modern classics. It certainly is a marked influence on modern independent film-making, as well as moving past the somewhat idealized nature of many drug-related films and into their horrific effects without feeling preachy. That being said, I don’t know that I can recommend it to people. This is certainly not a must-see–not by any means–yet like Fight Club, it has achieved a cult following for its frenetic, gritty portrayal of the absolutely broken drug-addict culture, and its effects on those who participate in it, as well as those who merely happen to be in close proximity to users.
The motto of the film:
“Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin.”
3.5 out of 5 stars