Saturday, December 18, 2010


You can pretty easily draw a comparison between Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, and the fact that the former came out four years earlier doesn't do the latter any favors. They're not quite the same, but they're both the second film by directors who are still acclaimed today, and use a lot of style to tell stories about the lives of drug addicts. Trainspotting is less overwhelming and depressing, and all told I ended up liking it more as a film. It's about five friends, three of which use heroin. One of them refuses but is a psycho on his own without the help of narcotics, and the other ends up getting pulled into that world worse than all of them.

There's an unusual flow to the plot as the protagonist played by Ewan McGregor goes through many ups and downs over time, falling into and out of his addiction. It's a good performance, making the character sympathetic despite myriad screw-ups and bad decisions, and the people around him are good too. My favorite character might be Tommy, played by Kevin McKidd with far more luxurious hair than I'm used to seeing, and Jonny Lee Miller (who we just saw do his best to save a disappointing season of Dexter) is another friend who sees himself as a very smart person, and who likes James Bond maybe a bit too much. Robert Carlyle is sort of a likable psychopath, and while I didn't know Ewen Bremner by name before this movie, I've seen him before and he fits his sad sack role well. Kelly Macdonald plays a girl Ewan rushes into a relationship with, and it's a pretty different part from what I'm used to seeing from her.

Danny Boyle's direction definitely helps the movie a lot, making every scene more interesting to watch and filling the whole thing with a lot of little touches that are both amusing and enhance the story. The scene where Ewan is in withdrawal and hallucinating is obviously a highlight and the film's most famous sequence, but it's far from the only scene that's unique and inventive. Things like completely entering the toilet and falling into the rug are similarly effective at putting you in the head of someone who's out of their mind, and it all works to somehow make the movie a bit more lighthearted than its subject matter would suggest without glorifying it. I really dug it a lot, more than Slumdog Millionaire, and Boyle is definitely a director I need to see more work by.

No comments: