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|Index||461 reviews in total|
240 out of 286 people found the following review useful:
One of the best films of the 1990s., 25 March 2000
In the aftermath of _Pulp Fiction_, much of the filmmaking of the 1990s
thrived upon attempts to appear "edgy" within the constructs of independent
films, or merely to provide empty shock value cliches. And no film ever
close to the sheer cleverness of Tarantino's masterpiece.
_Trainspotting_, however, somehow manages to take the excesses of the mid-90s and rise far, far above the cinematic cliches that it easily could have become. A film that tackles any hot-button social issue can, and usually does, simply become a didactic propaganda piece. Thankfully, _Trainspotting_ is vastly more intelligent in its edginess and its shock.
In order to appreciate _Trainspotting_ fully, the viewer must abandon any preconceptions about what defines truly great cinema, because this film defies convention at nearly every turn. And with the rapid pace of its plot, that's quite a bit of ground to cover.
Though a great deal of the picture's brilliance is derived from director Danny Boyle's consistent rejection of typical cinematic techniques, the most satisfying and _best_ aspect of _Trainspotting_ is that Boyle creates a film that is neither pro-drug or anti-drug. Instead, he maintains a rare objectivity throughout the film, depicting this fascinating array of complex, beautifully acted characters with an honesty that it seldom captured on film. And, given the life that each character lives, it's nearly incomprehensible that a director would refrain from influencing the viewer's impressions in any way, yet that's exactly what Boyle does.
The dialogue-- or at least what portions of the brogue-drenched dialogue American viewers will be able to comprehend-- is alternately hilarious, raw, and brutal. And Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, and Robert Carlyle bring a remarkable compassion and depth to their portrayals of characters that could have easily lapsed into cliche.
Despite its sheer brilliance, _Trainspotting_ is not a film that's easy to watch. The viewer is bombarded with images that transcend visceral discomfort in their horror-- this movie contains two of the most graphic, horrifying scenes I've ever encountered. But, amazingly, none of these elements is used merely for shock value. Though the viewer will be mortified by some of the things that happen onscreen-- the well-documented dive into Scotland's most vile public toilet, for example-- these scenes all make _perfect sense_ within the context of a masterfully told story.
In order to notice all of the subtlety that also exists in _Trainspotting_, repeat viewings are necessary, primarily to reduce some of the most powerful shocks ever-so-slightly, though their effects are never lost entirely. Some of the images will likely haunt even the most cynical, jaded viewer for weeks.
RATING: 10 out of 10. Never patronizing and completely unpretentious, _Trainspotting_ is one of the most daring, unconventional films ever made. It inspires a level of discomfort rivaled by very few movies, because, even at its most graphic, Boyle never insults the viewer with mere shock tactics. Brilliantly acted, directed, and written, with a truly rare objectivity that allows each viewer to interpret its story on his/her own terms.
226 out of 262 people found the following review useful:
Sublimely excellent, 10 December 2004
Author: lucidshard from UK
After reading some of the reviews that trash this film I had to speak
This film is gritty and dirty. There is content which is not pleasant, swearing and violence amounts other things. What else would you expect a film about drug addiction to be about? Well more than that actually, it about choices and what you Choose! Never at any point did this film make drugs look at all appealing to me in any way, I never did understand why so many people thought that it did. At no point did it ever say "Look at this, its cool." For those who think the level of swearing in this film is too much then they clearly haven't spent any time with working class people in Britain, not just Scotland. I being one of them can say its fairly accurate in that account.
That being said, those things do not take anything away from the film, the quality of plot and story, or the acting which is Stunning! Robert Carlise as Begbe was excellent, and Ewan MacGregor shined. Also the character Spud was worth a mention he really was quite good.
This film is in my Opinion a work of Genius, that represents the book accurately.
182 out of 219 people found the following review useful:
Hilarious, imaginative and very anti-drugs, 20 January 2004
Author: bob the moo
Renton is a heroin addict. He is one of a group of friends who live their
lives day to day and hit to hit. When he tries to kick the habit he
it for a while but eventually falls back into his old way. Meanwhile his
friends are as messed up as he is, whether it be Spud's pathetic
Begbie's violent rages or the fact that he is sleeping with a girl who
goes to school.
When it came out this film was very hyped, the poster became a must-have on every student's bedroom wall and the media went nuts over it's supposed glamorisation of drug use. The plot is very difficult to summarise, as it doesn't really have a narrative flow other than the very disjointed experience of Renton. However it manages to be very funny and imaginative all the way, using many different tricks and touches to be funny. The dialogue is very well written and I must admit I found it a lot funnier than the last few comedies I watched.
The media may have condemned this film as promoting drug use, but I can only imagine that they watched a different film from me. Sure, the film shows drugs as being fun and enjoyable but, like Renton says, `why else would we do it?' However the film clearly shows a massive downside where people's lives are destroyed, people OD and lives go day to day just trying to get high. True, it does show this downside in a stylish and funny way but there is no question that the film is promoting drug use in any sense.
Too often I see films that are style over substance; Trainspotting gets it just perfect, stylish but not at the expense of dialogue, character or film. It is helped by a great cast. McGregor jumped to stardom off the back of this role and he deserved it. He keeps his character both likeable but repulsive at the same time and carries the film with surprising ease. The support cast is excellent, even if they lack the same good character of Renton. Whether it is the comic Bremner, the violent Carlyle or the tragic McKidd. While not all their characters are well developed, they do all give good accounts of themselves, whether it is comic or showing the effects of heroin on their lives.
Overall this is a great film that is refreshing to see now without all the `cult student cool' hype or media feeding frenzy over it's supposed pro-drug approach. It is stylish, funny, depressing and downright sobering.
184 out of 228 people found the following review useful:
The Greatest British Movie of All Time, 28 February 2004
Author: RobertF87 from Scotland
This film became almost a cultural phenomenon as soon as it was released in
Britain in February 1996.
Adapted from the first (and best) book by Irvine Welsh, the film shows the lives of a group of Edinburgh heroin addicts.
The film is a black comedy, at times hilarious, tragic, surreal, brutal and uplifting. The film is full of memorable moments such as the chase down Edinburgh's Princes Street which opens the film (I happened to be there when they were filming that scene) and Ewan McGregor diving down the "Worst Toilet in Scotland" headfirst.
The film doesn't condemn drug addicts, but it is probably more effective then any amount of preachy moralising as it depicts the devastating consequences that can happen to drug users.
The film is well acted by a cast who have (mostly) become pretty famous since. Especially memorable is Robert Carlyle as the violent Begbie.
I have seen this film many times. It is an instant classic. Go check it out.
164 out of 211 people found the following review useful:
One of the best films ever - a lot of people missed the point, 27 September 2005
Author: MovieAddict2013 from UK
It's ironic that I'm saying "many people missed the point" because I
did, too. My original review on IMDb gave the film a negative rating. I
deleted it months ago because I have since purchased the Director's Cut
on DVD and fallen in love with it.
The movie is energetic, imaginative and unique. It's taken from Irvine Welsh's novel, which I now really want to read. It's about a group of heroin addicts (led by Ewan McGregor's Renton) in Scotland who can't seem to live past their addiction...everything centers around drugs.
"Trainspotting" was condemned for promoting drug use, but I agree with fellow reviewer Bob the Moo who claims this was a misinterpretation on the media's behalf - yeah, it may show drugs as being "funny" at times (like Renton's wacky hallucination) but it certainly doesn't glamorize them. Some of the sequences are sickeningly realistic and depressing - like the scene with the baby. That's tragic stuff, and totally unexpected. It's also effective because by that point in the film we care about the characters enough for it to affect us on an emotional level.
The movie was really popular in the UK but never got much acclaim overseas. Americans in general will always be less liberal and be quicker to damn films for their messages. "Taxi Driver" was hailed by Europeans in '76...can't really say the same for US critics - it was a huge split in opinion at the time.
Ditto here. Most Americans didn't really "get it" and the only attention it received was the controversy surrounding the appearance of Mr. McGregor's genitalia. Oh, the humanity! If you haven't seen "Trainspotting" yet, I highly recommend it. Don't be turned off at first by its bleak humor and sick content - I won't lie, it IS a rough ride...but by the end, it's worth it.
88 out of 115 people found the following review useful:
Superb, 6 March 2003
Author: Sean-M (email@example.com) from Northern Ireland
An extremely competent look at the Scottish drug-Scene, Trainspotting is
perfect example of the potential of the UK industry to tell a story of
tragedy, horror and hope in a manner that the American industry has yet
do without drifting into tired Cliche. While the manner and style of
delivery are extremely funny and at times appear almost unreal, the fact
remains that these characters are real. The clearly psychotic and
Begbie, played by Robert Carlyle is a supporting role that is actually of
immense value to the film. Here we have character who I've met, you've
and we've all met. A man with very little to lose absorbed in a sea of
alcohol and prone to violence. I choose him as example because he isnt
involved in the drug-scene in which the main characters are central. In
his opposition is somewhat humorous when we consider his own vices make
argueably worse off and the incidences of violence he becomes involved in
are most definitely black humour. Considering what is actually happening isnt funny, watching it play out, aside from one major incident, is extremely funny. And that is the tone of the film throughout, as characters continually talk nonsence and sail through the lives they have chosen, making very little progress, but instead drifting downwards until an opportunity presents itself to change their ways, where upon Renton, Ewan McGregor, must make a choice between his own life or his friends. McGregor himself is excellent in the film that made him, as is Jonny Lee Miller, who surprised me in this film by having a more thought-provoking character than the script and time strictly allowed considering his relatively minimal place in the main storyline. Ewen Bremner provided some excellent and often well-needed comic relief and Carlyle as I mentioned, was outstanding. This film is both real and unreal, taking the Humour of "Human Traffic" and the somber tone of "My name is Joe" and blending them together to create an unforgettable experience vividly accompanied by strains of "Perfect day" and other cultural and nostalgic sounds, particularly of the place and period. Trainspotting has been accused of glamourising drug-use but I firmly believe anyone who takes this view hasnt watched it properly. The fun is equally, if not more so, matched by some nasty images and for the time it was released, provided what was a very necessary look at the growing drug industry, the loss it creates and the hope that can arise. Superb.
87 out of 126 people found the following review useful:
My new favorite movie, 22 June 2000
Author: MaderR from Andover, MN
Trainspotting is the best movie I've ever seen! Danny Boyle did a
job of directing a movie based on Irvine Welsh's bestselling novel about
desperate and hopeless Scottish heroin addicts. And all the cast did a
superb job acting some of the most outrageous and offensive characters I've
ever seen. The only downside of this movie is understanding those thick
Scottish accents, but that also adds a bit of humor to the movie.
What I liked best about Trainspotting was the characters. They were the most unbelievable low-life, junky, sleazy, immoral, trash I've ever seen. I loved it! They'll make you both despise and pity them while loving them at the same time.
And the plot (which can be credited to Irvine Welsh) was unbelievable. Although some of the shocking elements this movie had distracted me from the story at first, repeated viewings of it made me appreciate it as one of the most profound stories ever.
55 out of 66 people found the following review useful:
A triumphant masterpiece, 12 March 2008
Author: ametaphysicalshark from prejudicemadeplausible.wordpress.com
Danny Boyle's "Trainspotting" is a film in which everything goes the
right way. Few films are fortunate to 'be' at the right time and right
place and take the world by storm as "Trainspotting" did, but the
ultimate proof of this film's greatness is that if you watched it alone
or with a large group of people, in 2008 or in 1996, it has the same
effect- absolute power. This film is nothing more- or less- than one of
the most effective and perfect artistic works ever committed to
The film follows the lives of a group of drug attics in Scotland in the late 1980's but is constructed less as a conventional narrative and more as a series of vignettes connected by characters and set to the film's dazzling soundtrack (the fact that I mention the scenes being 'set' to the soundtrack is proof of its importance in this particular film). Almost every scene is as powerful as the next, with three montages in particular being possibly the definitive examples of how to do a memorable cinematic montage.
Pop culture has been kind to "Trainspotting", remembering it as a unique and great film, especially in Britain. I certainly do not disagree with this consensus, but I feel the film has been hurt by familiarity, with even television series like "Family Guy" parodying the film's well-known scenes (and badly). This doesn't mean that the film's popularity is being hurt, but that it doesn't feel as fresh and original to people now as it did back in 1996. This is hardly the thing the film's reputation suffers most from however, with the significantly large number of people who claim the film supports and promotes drug use. I have to ask, and forgive my rudeness, how stupid can you possibly be? No, drug addicts in this film are not vilified, but they are consistently shown in a brutally realistic and horrifically tragic context, and just because the film doesn't go out of its way to emotionally manipulate you into completely hating its characters doesn't mean that it promotes drug use, it means that it's a knowing film careful enough not to become a sappy, melodramatic Hollywood product.
The acting is phenomenal, the music is terrific, the film is a pitch-perfect example of energizing editing and brilliant use of montage, and its script is one of the best ever written, alternately hilarious, horrifying, tragic, and benefiting from a rare level of depth and resonance. A British classic is what Trainspotting is recognized as, and a British classic is what it is.
78 out of 112 people found the following review useful:
Amazing, 25 January 2005
Author: newt2small from United Kingdom
I may only be young but not many films can effect me like 'Trainspotting'.It is able to pull you into the lives of the characters and makes you empathetic to their feelings while still in-keeping with Boyles contemporary look and style of film making.Its give you a different look about being Scottish which many of my friends have pointed out.Ewan Mc Gregor shows his best acting skills he shows that he has an amazing way of keeping you watching.He has proved himself a skilled actor and has contributed greatly to the British film industry.We are thankful.Its a film i can watch over and over again and still smile at the end.NOt one to miss.A must see!!
66 out of 94 people found the following review useful:
Take the best orgasm you've ever had... multiply it by a thousand and you're still nowhere near Trainspotting..., 30 August 2007
Author: Sergeant_Tibbs from Suffolk, England
In 1996 John Hodge took Irvine Welsh's novel "Trainspotting" and with
the help of Danny Boyle's direction created one of the most
influential, modern cult classics Britain has to offer. Commonly ranked
among the greatest films of the 90s; "Trainspotting" delivers
satisfactory viewing every single time. The essential drug film.
The term "trainspotting" in this case, is not the non-drug based hobby, but has two meanings for this film. A) The act of "trainspotting" is UK slang for trying to find a vein to intravenously inject drugs. And B) A joke not featured in the film, but two of the characters go to a disused train station to buy drugs and say they are going "trainspotting".
Ewan McGregor stars as Mark Renton, a performance that put him on the map, a man who spends; or wastes, most of his time taking drugs with his friends in one of their apartments. Until he decides to finally pack it in and go cold turkey. We see the highs and lows of the drugs as Renton attempts to build a new life. He battles the strain and the influences of his mates; including Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) a man who stops at nothing to take all, Spud (Ewen Bremner) a fast-paced anxious performance and Francis Begbie (Robert Carylye) a frighteningly intense character who is possibly my favourite of all-time; and Renton's sex life.
Vibrant colour is used to exaggerate the actions to intensify the imagery on screen. This also makes it stand out from other films creating a massive impact on the viewer. Unforgettable. The soundtrack consists of the pop culture the characters themselves love and some regularly featured in real life at the time. The film captures the era perfectly.
Danny Boyle's stylish direction is what mainly is so appealing about the film. Delivering an expertly structured adrenalin rush. The daring topic of the film was well perceived by critics and audiences to claim universal praise. But, they were still unsure if it was supporting drugs or an anti-drug film. In a way it is both.
We are guided through the film with Renton's narration, making it an extremely watchable viewing, one irresistible to want to experience several times. A hilarious triumph. This is movie-making.
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