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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 14.97%
Average: 1.6%
Pretty Bad: 2.67%
Total Crap: 1.6%

8 reviews, 139 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Fast, furious fun."
4 stars

'Trainspotting' -- the book, the movie, the soundtrack, the multimedia phenom (next comes the CD-ROM, no doubt) -- has been likened to 'A Clockwork Orange,' which also made hay with British youth by being scandalous and "evil" in the eyes of grown-ups.

The book, at least, merits the comparison. Irvine Welsh's anecdotal novel is alive with musical prose: "Ah went to take a shot. It took us ages tae find a good vein. Ma boys don't live as close tae the surface as maist people's. When it came, ah savored the hit .... Take yir best orgasm, multiply the feeling by twenty, and you're still fuckin miles off the pace." Welsh's genius, like Anthony Burgess' in A Clockwork Orange, was to sustain an alien dialect that first distances you from the squalor and then, as you pick up more of the native tongue, makes you feel like an insider for understanding words like "tolchock" or "radge." The prose sucks you in, makes you an honorary droog or junkie.

The movie Trainspotting inevitably loses much of Welsh's linguistic power. But director Danny Boyle, like Stanley Kubrick before him, tries the equivalent effect with images. When the hero -- Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), a spirited Edinburgh junkie -- must sift through appalling toilet water in search of placebo suppositories, Boyle has him sink into the toilet and swim through an inky blue void. The result, both lyrical and repellently literal, is a moment Kubrick might envy. Scene for scene, Trainspotting isn't in the same league as Clockwork; its dramatic arc is similar (Renton, like Alex, gradually reforms), but Boyle doesn't seduce us into complicity with violence. The movie's scariest character, the barroom brawler Begbie (Robert Carlyle), strikes like a Scottish twister and is clearly seen as the border between good dirty fun and a bad scene. Begbie would thrash all four of Kubrick's droogs.

As rude and scatalogical as Trainspotting often is, it represents a leap in maturity for Boyle and his scripter John Hodge, who broke through in 1994 with the nasty Hitchcockian doodle Shallow Grave. That effort was so cold and remorseless it made Blood Simple look like Forrest Gump, and it left a bad taste in my mouth, as if Begbie had directed it. Trainspotting is lighter and more compassionate; among its deeper merits is that it proves a movie doesn't have to be mean to be fresh.

Trainspotting, the title, refers to a meaningless activity meant to lend the illusion of structure to an aimless existence. It's Welsh's metaphor for the addictive rituals of heroin. Most of the young protagonists shoot up, but the movie isn't really about heroin -- the drug could just as easily be moloko-plus or mugwump juice. It's about the irony of youth being so averse to societal cages -- "Choose life, choose a family, choose a job" -- that they forge their own chains. Ewan McGregor, whom I found insufferable in Shallow Grave, is much better here; his Renton, confiding in us through sardonic narration, is a serviceable heir to Malcolm McDowell's sly-fox Alex. We like the little fucker, and we wish him well.

'Trainspotting' may only be the art-house flavor of the month, but McGregor and Boyle make it tasty.

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originally posted: 01/28/07 11:47:11
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User Comments

1/23/19 morris campbell a solid antidrug film 4 stars
8/11/15 Bents Tells an epic tale in 94 minutes. 5 stars
5/13/15 stanley welles an inventive, dark and hilarious film 5 stars
3/07/15 Ameer B didn't like this one 1 stars
12/18/13 John Tiller This film is truly great. It has everything: comedy, insight into addicts, social commentry 5 stars
5/23/12 keith miron I liked when the baby crawled on the ceiling 4 stars
4/24/12 Marty Cool movie about heroine. teaches u bout ur view on drug culture. funny too! 4 stars
12/29/09 Dane Youssef The very finest of 1996. Raw, funny and enthralling. As grand as the book that bore it. 5 stars
9/11/09 conner cinema at its finest, funny, comical, disturbing, violent, 5 stars
7/13/09 mr.mike Is no bad. 4 stars
10/05/08 Tom monumentally overrated 2 stars
7/06/08 Jason Strickland One of my absolute favorite films EVER! 5 stars
2/26/08 Cannsaw My #1 5 stars
2/04/08 Liam Brilliant, poweful film... as close as I've seen to perfection 5 stars
9/25/07 Beau wait ill it comes out on tv and make sure ur not home!! it was really garbage!! 2 stars
4/13/07 MP Bartley Biting, energetic and very very funny. 5 stars
3/27/07 fools♫gold I've always liked "Shallow Grave" better. 4 stars
2/19/07 Nick Maday Truly one of the best movies I have eer seen/ 5 stars
1/29/07 David Cohen Overrated?! What does it take to impress you people?! 5 stars
1/29/07 Lisa Craven This movie just didn't do it for me...I pass 2 stars
11/07/06 choose life......choose maddi!!!! soooooooo good. it wouldnt have been the same without spud! my hero 5 stars
11/01/06 Charles Tatum Good stuff has its moments 4 stars
10/04/06 Baldeadly The Book was Quite hard to grasp the Movie was GREAT! Soundtrack was Great Too. Just GREAT! 5 stars
9/19/06 Scottish Dave This film will be remembered as a cult GOD. It is that good and hard hitting. 5 stars
9/13/06 Bitchflaps Riveting... if you have ADHD, a low IQ and can't be arsed to read about drugs. 2 stars
5/05/06 ES Entertaining but overrated. The bed sheets thing still haunts me 4 stars
2/23/06 Doc Hollywood Really enjoyable and thought provoking 5 stars
2/21/06 Scott One of my favorite movies of all time 5 stars
12/05/05 Gene Carmean Outstanding 5 stars
12/01/05 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Fun to watch, fun to get sick to. 4 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Go see this movie. Go see this movie now. Right now. And see Millions as well. 5 stars
10/27/05 Begbie It was fucking obvious that this Shaun cunt was gonna fuck some cunt. 5 stars
9/16/05 Indrid Cold Loses some steam when the plot starts about an hour in, but definitely worth a look. 4 stars
5/10/05 Vince This is the shit. 5 stars
4/29/05 Alyson One of the best movies I've ever seen! 5 stars
9/26/04 Shaun Overated at the time. Even worse today 1 stars
8/22/04 PatL This is the stuff classics are made of! 5 stars
8/09/04 Abbath Greatest movie of all time, bar none! 5 stars
7/26/04 Agent Sands Trainspotting & Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas R the greatest double feature ever! Trust me! 5 stars
7/23/04 Sean Norton entirely fails to display the catastrophic results of heroin addiction. 4 stars
7/21/04 April Gupton so depressing 5 stars
7/07/04 Margie some of the best visuals. one of the greatest "don't do drugs or you'll be screwed" movies 5 stars
5/14/04 willie RENTON is scottish "english lad" my ass! 4 stars
3/08/04 Natasha It's absolutely great!! 5 stars
9/26/03 I Would For it's lack of coherence and overuse of style, this is one Hell of a film. 4 stars
7/31/03 FLiK Phenomenal; and one of the funniest constipation jokes I've heard 5 stars
6/11/03 Kelley amazing 5 stars
6/08/03 Pure Morning The best film to come out of Britain in the 90's. Maybe forever. 5 stars
5/17/03 Andrew Carden Good Performances, but An Overrated Film. 3 stars
5/13/03 Movie Expert A masterpiece about accepting life even though life is unfair and depressing 5 stars
5/12/03 mr. Pink very entertaining, great editing, great style, great acting. But there's a bit shallow core 4 stars
5/05/03 Bluto McBlurt The greatest anti-drug commercial ever produced. 5 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby Sensationalism over coherence. McGregor is superb; Carlysle is atrocious. 1 stars
3/30/03 joey never feel bored even watch it for 10 times! 5 stars
3/18/03 Shadaan Felfeli Fantastic 4 stars
1/21/03 Rene I just saw it, primely fro "Rent-Boy" himself and fell in love with the whole cast! 5 stars
12/17/02 chris fuck you, hollywood. 5 stars
11/09/02 Michael Bolton 'begbie' kicks ass, ewan m. before the star wars bullshit. 5 stars
9/30/02 Marian i love. it captured that miserable feeling everybody gets. 5 stars
6/10/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi mmm...ewan 5 stars
5/14/02 Francis mostly excellent, but some scenes tedious, and no-one gets away with that much pub violence 4 stars
4/27/02 maximal01 'Dead baby on the roof' scene made me cry into my pillow. 4 stars
4/01/02 Swashbuckler Yeah, how I love the toilets in Scotland 5 stars
3/13/02 Mickey One of the greatest movies ever!! 5 stars
2/17/02 Clarance Blow, Requiem For a Dream, and Trainspotting... all belong in a category of their own. WOW! 5 stars
12/19/01 paul definately one of my five favorite movies... of all time... 5 stars
10/11/01 Smokie I just read the book. Wow! even more eye-opening than the movie 5 stars
9/09/01 Gary Hilarious, hard-hitting, effective & skilfully directed. McGregor & Carlyle are excellent. 5 stars
8/21/01 Monster W. Kung Together with Fight Club, the best movie of the 90s. 5 stars
8/21/01 P.Rodriguez Nuff said 5 stars
8/16/01 christina paciolla dark, gritty, and disturbing...highly entertaining and touching 5 stars
8/06/01 daniel awesome movie, possibly best movie/soundtrack combo ever. scenes/music are inseparable. 5 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg compelling and hard hiting,with some funny moments as well . 5 stars
7/23/01 patchouli fucking great 5 stars
7/03/01 Boomshanka A groundbreaker, well written, and none too comfortable to watch. Great stuff. 5 stars
6/13/01 Bada Bing Crosby I like all junkie movies, they have built-in appeal to me for some sick fucking reason 5 stars
6/11/01 ReeRee757 One of the best movies I've ever seen. Too bad it didn't do better in the States. 5 stars
4/26/01 trasu This is a really great movie, one of my favorites. Clever, funny and dark. 5 stars
4/24/01 Spetters Very good, even brilliant in parts, but a bit too hip (read: shallow) 4 stars
4/19/01 Tam Gritty drama packed with dark humour, a top script and superb acting. 5 stars
3/20/01 TNT-6 The best movie I've ever seen about drug addiction. 5 stars
2/13/01 Jake was entertaining but wouldn't see it again 3 stars
1/16/01 Nut The best movie of the 90's. 5 stars
1/04/01 Cora van Voornamen great, clever movie. however, welsh has better books if you're into that. 5 stars
10/28/00 Mic An almost interesting look at addicts, but not quite interesting enough as a whole. 2 stars
10/23/00 sickboy One of my favorite movies. 5 stars
9/20/00 Jeff very good 4 stars
9/18/00 Greyjack Hot diggety damn--this movie's brilliant! 5 stars
7/18/00 Matthew Bartley Come in Hollywood your time is up 5 stars
6/08/00 TERRIE SMITH One hell of a film and not for everyone's taste; volatile acting from Robert Carlyle 5 stars
6/03/00 PJ Coooool funny, and hip. Danny Boyle has and will never do a better movie, no where near. 5 stars
5/30/00 Zatoichi Jones heroin is bad for you. this movie demonstrates it 4 stars
5/07/00 Klute. Just a very good, well written, well performed, original film. 5 stars
4/26/00 The Bomb 69 i choose life, funny shite 5 stars
4/16/00 JonnyAngel Where have you gone Ewan? 5 stars
3/20/00 Alexis Boucher I love this, Trainspotting rocked my world. Ewan Mcgregor is awesome, one of my favorites. 5 stars
3/01/00 Ionicera supposedly unfilmable books make the best movies 5 stars
2/28/00 Tim Boehm Has got to be one of the best films of the decade. Ewen McGregor is amazing 5 stars
2/20/00 perverted pixie Great, but way over- rated. I prefered "The Beach". 4 stars
2/16/00 Neil Austin er..Hollywood can kiss my arse, if you do close to this, I'll kiss yours. 5 stars
1/24/00 Casey Jarzabek THE BEST OF THE BEST 5 stars
1/09/00 unstrung its great, a real look at whats its like to be adicted, not a sugarcoated hollywood version 5 stars
11/16/99 Don Valdez Great movie, choose life. 5 stars
10/30/99 Bozo It was amazing but I wouldn't see it again 5 stars
10/25/99 Bueller Tough subject matter, treated with both grit and humor. 4 stars
9/28/99 Glitter Berry Ewan should have been nominated for this witty excuse to NEVER try heroin 5 stars
9/17/99 richard fortunato whirling, frenetic, sour yet appealing 5 stars
9/07/99 RPiTaYa "I've got the beast in my sights, Moneypenny" 5 stars
9/05/99 Weird Andy At times very funny, but generally pointless. Still better than average. 3 stars
8/26/99 Azimat THE NO.1 MOVIE OF MY LIFE!!! 5 stars
8/05/99 Izumi "With God 's help, I'll conquer this affliction." Disturbing but surprisingly up-lifting... 5 stars
8/01/99 mara 1st view-disturbing...2nd-amazing."do you she the beast, do you have him in your shights?" 5 stars
7/26/99 The Bomb 69 Sick boy reminded me of myself back in my heroin days 5 stars
7/20/99 Matthew Bartley Ready to surrender yet Hollywood? 5 stars
7/15/99 GothamDK Bloody great movie! Love that toilet bowl scene. Visionary. 5 stars
7/15/99 Kiwi The best! 5 stars
7/15/99 J. Random Hacker This is a brilliant brilliant movie. Depressing, yet ultimately uplifting. 5 stars
4/28/99 Michael Grimm heroin never looked so good and bad!!! 5 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson deserving of the hype 5 stars
12/12/98 Jules Fucking Wow! 5 stars
12/05/98 The Dude This was the best fucking gross-out comedy I've ever fucking seen motherfuckers. 5 stars
12/04/98 Matthew J. Soucy Spectacular filmmaking, augmented by a killer soundtrack. 5 stars
12/02/98 Evil Buffy i love this film. ewan and danny boyle direction. gross, poinet and beautiful. i wanna be 5 stars
11/28/98 Mr.Pink Terrific!!! 5 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob A syncratic blending of moralization and deporability. In it's own class! 5 stars
10/24/98 Ash THIS HAS TO BE ONE OF THE TOP TEN BEST MOVIES-Great Acting, style, quirky and fun!!!!!! 5 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo You people are clearly morons. This was a great Goddamned movie. One of the best in years. 5 stars
9/28/98 Heather Wow wow wow! Powerful film! 5 stars
9/27/98 {{{OZ}}} Just a great fucking film, great acting, script, humor and music. Mondo awesome. 5 stars
9/26/98 Slabs Makes me never want to look in a toilet again. Too Swee! But don't let mom see it... 5 stars
9/21/98 Maegs Beyond brilliant, this is Hodge and Boyle at their incredible best! 5 stars
9/05/98 Kid Pee-Pee Terrific shit. 5 stars
9/04/98 Johny A Great film 5 stars
9/04/98 Badass A trip. 5 stars
9/01/98 MikeF I saw it in bits and pieces and then the otherday I finally got to see it whole. it's great 5 stars
8/31/98 Matt definitely on my top ten of all time 5 stars
8/30/98 Mister Whoopee If you haven't seen this yet, you should go get it out now. Seriously. It's awesome. Superb 5 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Totally inventive, really well written, damn funny and worth watching many times. 5 stars
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  19-Jul-1996 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2004



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