Recently Trainspotting was voted top in a poll of best British films to be released under Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

I think that this is a little bit of an injustice. Trainspotting is possibly the greatest British film released under any reign. Scratch that. Trainspotting is one of the greatest films EVER made in any language, any country, any genre. Trainspotting is as close to perfect as I have ever seen a film reach.

Released in 1996 to rave reviews from all angles Trainspotting tells the story of Renton, a guy deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene who tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends. After working together on Shallow Grave Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor teamed up to make an absolute classic based on Irvine Welsh’s novel.

Superstar director – Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle is one of Britain’s greatest directors and is one of my favourite directors working today. Christopher Nolan, the Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino get the majority of attention and are perhaps the most famous of directors but Danny Boyle always has been and remains one of the best. Since Trainspotting he has churned out hit after hit including 28 Days Later, The Beach, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours and while all are very impressively filmed and are gorgeous to look at nothing quite touches all the senses in the same way that Trainspotting does.

Trainspotting introduced Ewan McGregor to the masses and he has gone on to have a very long and prestigious career in film. I am a fan of the Scot and his performance here as Renton is flawless. He gives possibly the best narration to a film ever (along with Ed Norton’s narration in Fight Club) but his presence on screen is fantastic; he really submerges himself deeply in the character’s life and his performance is both harrowing and hilarious at the same time. If McGregor is to be remembered for any film role, it should be this one.

One of the greatest friendships ever caught on film.

McGregor laid down the gauntlet for his fellow cast members to compete with and they picked it up and ran with it. Ewen Bremmer as the dimwitted and closest friend of Renton, Spud, gives a humorous turn while keeping in tune with the dark subject matter. Johnny Lee Miller has gone on to star in American television series’ such as Dexter but he will always be known as Sick Boy and Kevin McKidd manages to put in a great performance as Tommy to the extent that you feel sorry for him but you don’t really care about him. It’s strange. But Robert Carlyle as Begbie, a short tempered frustrated possible homosexual, is amazing; Carlyle always gives a safe performance but he offers up a lot of laughs in an otherwise serious film.

The friendship between Renton, Sick Boy, Tommy, Spud and Begbie is completely believable and authentic. All the relationships are recognisable and take away the drug use (or include it) and you probably know people just like this group of friends in Trainspotting. To me, one of the most important parts of a film is character interaction, development and relationships and each and every one is spot on. The friendship between Renton and Spud is probably my favourite because even though Renton lets Spud go to jail whilst he remains free and later on Renton does them over, you can tell that the only one of that group that Renton really cares about is Spud and I think that is touching really.

The realism captured on film of the drug addiction, Scottish life, friendship, death and sexuality is incredible. Trainspotting could well be real, it is filmed that well, it could well be a documentary with Ewan McGregor’s voice over warning everyone about drugs and the addictiveness of them so it is hard to believe that this is a work of fiction. Some of the scenes become incredibly hard to watch because of the haunting events unravelling but you can’t peel your eyes away from the screen; the dark images will stay with you for as long as you live.

Luckily though, Trainspotting, while dealing with a lot of serious and dark themes does manage to pack in the laughs as well. There is a lot of humour for viewers to find there and the ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene manages to be both horrible and hilarious at the same time, absolutely cringeworthy as well as Spud’s ‘dinner table accident’ scene later on.

I can’t express in words how good Trainspotting is. It’s probably not a film for the faint hearted but it’s nothing like any other film ever made.

Combine the greatness of Danny Boyle and the quality of actors like McGregor and Carlyle to name just a couple and you are in for something fantastic right from the word go.

Trainspotting IS one of the best films ever made. No question.

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