Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 239 - Trainspotting

Trainspotting (1996) directed by Danny Boyle

Trainspotting hits the ground running as we see Ewan McGregor's character Renton being pursued by security guards on foot. This is how we are introduced to film's crazy world of addiction, mayhem and mischef. We are in for a wild ride.

What is the worst part about addiction? In my opinion it isn't the actual thing you're addicted to, whether it be drinking, gambling, drugs, porn, whatever, but everything else around it. Your addiction becomes a problem when it affects your every day life, consumes your thoughts, becomes the only thing you truly enjoy. When people quit drugs, it isn't necessarily the high that they miss that makes it so tough, it is tough because regular life is so unbearable. When Renton attempts to stay clean he finds that "once the pain goes away, that's when the real battles starts. Depression, boredom... You feel so fucking low, you want to fucking top yourself."

This film is a highly energetic mess and I mean that in a good way. The chaotic and hectic pace of the film fits perfectly well with the lives that the characters are leading. Perhaps the most memorable scene of the film is when Renton goes to literally the worst bathroom in all of Scotland and reaches into a toilet to find drugs. He reaches so deep that he dives right into it and suddenly he is swimming in a wide open ocean. Great stuff. There is no real singular plot to the story other than these friends' drugged out adventures and Renton's on and off attempts to stay clean.

There are the depressing aspects of addiction, the dilapidated and squalid crack houses, the painful bouts of withdrawal, the soul sucking depression and isolation. In one scene, a baby is found dead in her crib due to neglect. Yet, this film isn't quite Requiem for a Dream, there are the good times as well. The film's energy and humor give the film a certain bounce and pep to it as to not drag the viewer down in all its despair.

Trainspotting is about addiction but it is also about the friendship formed around it. Think about all the friends you have and ask yourself why you are friends with them. Is it because they are nice? Are they funny? You guys both like the same team? Somewhere near the bottom of the list should be because you like to share needles. As Renton tries to get clean he slowly begins to realize this about the people he hangs out with. Would he really be friends with the raging psychopath Begbie if they weren't in the same grimy underworld?

SPOILER: It makes the ending somewhat heartbreaking but fitting when Renton takes the money. He realizes that their friendship has run its course. It is uplifting though that he left money behind for Spud, who Renton genuinely likes and recognizes as a nice guy that hasn't hurt anybody. END SPOILER

Grade: B+

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