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Film Studies 101
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Ewan McGregor
Ewen Bremner
Jonny Lee Miller
Kevin McKidd
Robert Carlyle.
Danny Boyle.
Irvine Welsh
John Hodge.
Running Time
94 minutes

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A film about much more than just drugs...spellbinding..

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Renton is a Scottish youth with a problem...a big, scary, dirty heroine problem and so have most of his friends. He wants to give up, but how?


Trainspotting doesn't glorify heroin. It glorifies youth. Youth at its worst, mostly, but youth trying to sort things as only youth can. Watch it again on video and it's still, in parts, hilariously funny. But whereas in the cinema peer pressure helped everyone laugh as the junkies got it all wrong, sitting on your own sofa, heroin looks more serious than ever. This doesn't spoil the film, but it destroys the idea that Trainspotting could ever glorify heroin. No way.

It begins with Renton (McGregor) giving up "that shite" but falling at the first hurdle, right down the worst toilet in Scotland. Truly one of cinema's most disgusting sequences, and perfect to introduce the rollercoaster rush of an unforgettable first half hour. Rich, earthy dialogue gushes like a ruptured sewer, etching characters deeper than any laughter lines. Sick Boy (Miller) mixes Connery's Bond with cod philosophy, Spud (Bremner) mixes dorky geekdom with the world's worst interview technique, while Begbie (Carlyle) mixes psycho sensibilities with impressive dexterity using the wrong end of a pool cue. But these personalities, like the settings — bile green apartment walls, the blood red den of their dealer Mother Superior — are stylised and get a sudden and shocking reality injection straight after a catalogue of hilariously catastrophic sexual encounters.

The morning after, everything's changed. Renton's already classic rant against fresh air and the English can signal one thing only: a return to heroin, to crime and to hell. Director Boyle allows roughly two minutes before throwing the viewer into the pit, and it's a stunning turnaround. A baby dies, Spud goes to jail, Renton goes cold turkey — humiliated by his parents, tormented by ghosts and lectured, bizarrely, by Dale Winton about HIV.

Once again Renton gets his life back on the rails, but the nightmares of his past follow him even to London where he snatches despair from the very jaws of hope. Fittingly, he and his unwelcome flatmates Begbie and Sick Boy return briefly to their Edinburgh roots to bury another heroin statistic, before a coach trip back south for an amateurish, pathetic drug deal — selling rather than buying, for once, and for one last thrill. It all goes pear-shaped, naturally, and no one is surprised, because by now the message is sinking in: heroin is for losers. For useless, unreliable fuck-ups, But in the hands of Boyle and this fantastic cast, and with a stunning soundtrack, it is possible to receive that message in an unprecedented and unrivalled piece of entertainment. Something Britain can be proud of and Hollywood must be afraid of. If we Brits can make movies this good about subjects this horrific, what chance does Tinseltown have?

Choose life? Get a life — choose Trainspotting.

This films does not glorify drugs it glorifies film.

Reviewed by Neil Jeffries

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Choose Trainspotting

Arguably the most important British film of the 90s, this not only proved that the Brits could make commercial films but also ones that tackled big subjects in imaginative and inventive ways. The skanky drug culture of Edinburgh's heroin back alleys are depicted here by turns as appealing and appalling in equal measures, propelled by an amazingly dynamic shooting style, a driving score of perfectly judged songs and a roster of star-making performances. This is daring, vibrant film-making at its ... More

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Posted by RJNeb2 at 00:16, 29 May 2014 | Report This Post

Incredible film. Boyle's best and one of the best British films I've ever seen. ... More

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Posted by Coyleone at 01:14, 26 February 2012 | Report This Post

The best British film ever made

Classic. Theres not much else to say about this. While I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, as it is heavy going an not for the squeamish, for me, this was just amazing. Life changing. Mind blowing. Perfectly acted, filmed and directed. if there are any budding directors, take note of this film. Where to start with the actors. Ewan McGregor is just phenomenal, going from being just another loser to turning his life around in a tale of redemption. Robert Carlyle shows the most hatred ive ever see... More

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Posted by hjfleeds at 17:03, 23 October 2010 | Report This Post

British Classic

The film does not glorify drugs but does heavily feature them in order to make a point: Drugs are bad. "Trainspotting" is ocassionally difficult to watch but is ultimately rewarding. Go watch it now. ... More

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Posted by krisjcummins at 20:17, 02 May 2010 | Report This Post

Flawless performances, striking stylism and a terrific screenplay are just a few of this superb cult film's many merits ... More

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Posted by TheNapalmKid at 09:12, 12 October 2009 | Report This Post

Flawless performances, striking stylism and a terrific screenplay are just a few of this superb cult film's many merits ... More

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Posted by TheNapalmKid at 09:12, 12 October 2009 | Report This Post


It is worth putting yourself through the hell of watching this film just to see Renton win in the end. Full of feeling, energy and wry humour. An absolute triumph. ... More

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Posted by Balian of Ibelin at 19:12, 28 February 2009 | Report This Post

... More

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Posted by Kat113 at 13:11, 31 January 2009 | Report This Post


I have had many a conversation about what my top ten films ever are. Every time this gets in it. I dont know about it being No 1 but it always makes my ten. I do think it helps being British watching it though, just has that british sense of humour. True story: my Nan and Grandad went to see this thinking it was about trains. they left 5 minutes in. ... More

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Posted by Rokmabisniz at 23:15, 20 December 2008 | Report This Post


4/5 ... More

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Posted by JaCkT794 at 23:38, 27 September 2008 | Report This Post


4/5 ... More

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Posted by JaCkT794 at 23:38, 27 September 2008 | Report This Post

Trainspotting - brilliant!!

definately one of the best films ive seen, so good i wrote a review for my AS coursework and got a good grade! see it its brilliant ... More

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Posted by obical at 15:10, 22 August 2007 | Report This Post

Powerful, funny, powerful

So many things correct with this film. Begbie's the most believable film psycho since...maybe Psycho. ... More

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Posted by dhollseed at 04:51, 18 August 2007 | Report This Post


I still havent seen this movie ive been trying to watch it but last time it was on tv i fell asleep does anybody know why the trainspotting dvd is so hard to come by? ive searched loadz of sites but havent found it apart from amazon and in which its rele rele expensive like £39.99 for the single disc edition ... More

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Posted by RZfilmfan at 19:51, 12 July 2007 | Report This Post


...definitive BRITISH film! ... More

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Posted by JokerJr at 18:22, 01 June 2007 | Report This Post


An unpretentious wild ride of a film which demonstrates the pleasure of drugs without demonstrating satisfactin from them nor ever condoning them. A little dated, but still a striking film. Boyle has yet to match this and the film compiles great set pieces( the worst toilet in Scotland is a standout) and provides an electrifying and funny cast. Not there particularly lighthearted; Carlyle storms the screen frequently and can be a particularly aggressive character. But Macgregor is the soul behi... More

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Posted by Ace Rothstein at 14:27, 13 May 2007 | Report This Post

Great film

Loved it!!! Lots of excellent moments and not preachy (wooo). I liked all of the characters and i thought it was nice that the movie looked at the reasons why drugs are taken not just the consquences. A true masterpeice and Danny Boyle is an amazing director. ... More

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Posted by OMGWTFBBQ at 17:28, 04 July 2006 | Report This Post

this film is awesome ... More

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Posted by dazz at 16:48, 01 May 2006 | Report This Post

The film itself is a classic. Great actors complimented the film and realisticly conveyed the real meanings and effects of drugs to the audience. The most memorable scene was Scotlands worst toilet in the world which Mcgregor falls down, failing at the first stage of giving up drugs. Ewen played his part well narrating in a cool carm voice which conveys his relaxed attitude to life. A truly great British film, showing the Americans what we can realy do. ... More

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Posted by 1989loup at 18:51, 03 January 2006 | Report This Post

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