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Trainspotting (1996)

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Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.

Director:

Danny Boyle

Writers:

Irvine Welsh (based on the novel by), John Hodge (screenplay)
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Popularity
739 ( 96)
Top Rated Movies #157 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 23 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »

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After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ewan McGregor ... Renton
Ewen Bremner ... Spud
Jonny Lee Miller ... Sick Boy
Kevin McKidd ... Tommy
Robert Carlyle ... Begbie
Kelly Macdonald ... Diane
Peter Mullan ... Swanney
James Cosmo ... Mr. Renton
Eileen Nicholas ... Mrs. Renton
Susan Vidler ... Allison
Pauline Lynch Pauline Lynch ... Lizzy
Shirley Henderson ... Gail
Stuart McQuarrie Stuart McQuarrie ... Gavin / US Tourist
Irvine Welsh ... Mikey Forrester
Dale Winton ... Game Show Host
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Storyline

A wild, freeform, Rabelaisian trip through the darkest recesses of Edinburgh low-life, focusing on Mark Renton and his attempt to give up his heroin habit, and how the latter affects his relationship with family and friends: Sean Connery wannabe Sick Boy, dimbulb Spud, psycho Begbie, 14-year-old girlfriend Diane, and clean-cut athlete Tommy, who's never touched drugs but can't help being curious about them... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Never let your friends tie you to the tracks. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic heroin use and resulting depravity, strong language, sex, nudity and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 August 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Trainspotting See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£4,703,433 (United Kingdom), 15 March 1996

Opening Weekend USA:

$262,000, 21 July 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$16,501,785

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$71,558,971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shot on a budget of £1.5 million over a period of 35 days. Despite that low budget, PolyGram allocated an almost unprecedented £800,000 to go towards promotion and advertisement, such was their faith in the film. See more »

Goofs

The Doctor slapping Renton's face has no rings on her hand initially, then she has rings on both hands. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mark "Rent-boy" Renton: [narrating] Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Profile pictures of the cast are shown during the beginning of the end credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

Criterion laserdisc version and the canadian DVD release adds nine new scenes that were originally deleted from the film before release, showing:
  • additional dialogue between Sick Boy and Renton about Sean Connery and James Bond movies;
  • Spud talking about his friendship with Begbie;
  • Renton's job interview (originally intercut with Spud's interview)
  • Diane catching Renton, Spud, and Sick Boy while shoplifting
  • Renton meeting Swanney in the hospital after he's lost his leg
  • Sick Boy and Renton talking about Swanney in the park
  • Tommy discussing the virtues of Australia with Spud
  • Diane dumping Renton for a healthier guy
  • Sick Boy, Begbie, Spud, and Renton at the bus station before leaving for London.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Twist of Fate (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Think About the Way (Bom Digi Digi Bom...)
Performed by Ice MC
Written by Roberto Zanetti
Published by Extravaganza Publishing/Artemis B.V.
By kind permission of Warner Chappell Music Ltd
Courtesy of Robyx Srl/Warner Music UK Ltd
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
One of the best films of the 1990s.
25 March 2000 | by omophagia-2See all my reviews

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 came 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.


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