Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting is a film that has left me perplexed ever since the first time I viewed it as a teenager nearly a decade ago. I remember, as I finished the film, thoroughly hating it. There was something about its subject matter and characters that I immediately found off putting.
It wasn’t until my third or fourth viewing of the picture that I really understood what Boyle was going for. It’s supposed to be off putting and the characters are supposed to be unlikable. The film shows just how much of an impact heroin can have on a young individual’s life. It destroys life to the point where heroin becomes the only thing that really matters.
For these young drug addicts, the only thing that gets them through the day is the anticipation of the next hit. By using over-the-top visuals (the sequence with the dead infant in the crib is one that I won’t be able to shake for sometime) and rapid MTV music video style editing, Boyle makes the film visually fascinating while showing the truth behind the life of the average drug addict.
If I have a problem with the film it’s that it really doesn’t go far enough. Less quick cutting and hyper stylized editing and more human characters would have made the film deeper and more palatable. But, maybe that wasn’t what Boyle was going for. With his use of editing, he shows just how much can be lost when one is stuck in the sad world of drug addiction. That, in and of itself, makes the film something special. The film is gritty and dark, both qualities that are rarely seen in Hollywood movies today. I still think the ending doesn’t work as well as it should as it feels a bit too upbeat but that’s a minor quibble of an otherwise fine film.