Trainspotting (1 & 2)

D: Danny Boyle
Polygram/Channel 4/Figment (Andrew MacDonald)
UK 1996
94 mins


W: John Hodge [based on the novel by Irvine Welsh]
DP: Brian Tufano
Ed: Masahiro Hirakubo

Ewan McGregor (Mark Renton), Ewen Bremner (Spud), Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy), Kevin McKidd (Tommy), Robert Carlyle (Begbie), Kelly MacDonald (Diane), Peter Mullan (Swanney)

Danny Boyle may have got his foot in the door of stardom with his previous effort, Shallow Grave, but his career really launched with Trainspotting, an adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel about a group of Edinburgh heroin addicts who occasionally participate in petty theft, sex, booze and violence whenever they are capable of it. 
The film could be easily summed up by it's main character Mark Renton's "Choose life speech" which accompanies the opening sequence, but it's much more than that. Occasionally surreal, disturbing and even stomach churning, John Hodge's screenplay also has a cruel and cheeky black humour which runs through it.
Ewan McGregor's performance saw his career heading for Hollywood stardom following this film, even though the most memorable character by far is Begbie, a total psychopath with no redeeming qualities (played with relish by Robert Carlyle).
The subject was a hot topic upon it's release, not for it's sensationalisation of drug culture or for making a degenerate character into a sharp-witted protagonist, but more so for proving that sometimes it's quite possible to make something worthwhile from an "unfilmable" novel.
It certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, but not many can deny it is amongst the best and most powerful British films of the entire decade.



D: Danny Boyle

Tristar/Film4/Creative Scotland/Cloud Eight/DNA (Andrew MacDonald, Christian Colson, Danny Boyle & Bernard Bellew)

UK 2017

117 mins


W: John Hodge [based on characters created by Irvine Welsh]

DP: Anthony Dod Mantle

Ed: Jon Harris

Ewan McGregor (Mark Renton), Ewen Bremner (Daniel 'Spud' Murphy), Jonny Lee Miller (Simon 'Sick Boy' Williamson), Robert Carlyle (Francis Begbie), Kelly MacDonald (Diane Coulston)

No British film quite captured the 1990's quite like Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, released in 1996 to great success and garnering a massive cult following despite its edgy material. This sequel uses material from Irvine Welsh's novel that didn't make it into the original film, as well as snippets from the novel Porno, the author's own sequel to his work.

20 years on from events in the original film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns home to Scotland to face the music after robbing his friends of a cut of £16,000. 

Spud is still addicted to heroin, while Sick Boy spends his days snorting cocaine and blackmailing rich businessmen. Begbie, having just escaped from prison, is looking out most for revenge having been double-crossed by Renton.

Although it's good to see the characters back, this sequel doesn't have the same magic as the first film and the story is rather aimless. 

It has its moments which will make you laugh, feel disgust, and perhaps a mix of both, but it really isn't anywhere near as good as the 1996 film.

Director Danny Boyle titled the film 'T2: Trainspotting' for the cinema release, just to annoy James Cameron.


Trainspotting 2
Trainspotting 2