Indie Classics: Trainspotting
Grab your friends and have them grab their friends. Then practice your Scottish accents and strap in for Trainspotting. Adapted from the Irvine Welsh novel, this British drama actually has nothing to do with the practice of Train Spotting. Instead the film follows the lives of four heroin addicts and their struggle to go clean, withstand poverty, stay alive, and find meaning in their lives. In 1997, it was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
Some hail Trainspotting as the British Pulp Fiction–I completely disagree. It’s grungier, it’s less dialogue oriented, it’s more drug heavy, the sex scenes are more explicit and frequent, and it has a funnier bathroom scene (instead of John Travolta getting mowed down with a MAC-10).
Directed by Danny Boyle (who also did 28 Days Later and Slum Dog Millionaire), this film will have you wincing, laughing, and contemplating your opinion on addictions and how dangerous and tempting they really are. The main character (and narrator) is Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), a smart, ballsy kid with a terrible habit for shooting up. Alongside him are Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Tommy (Kevin McKidd) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle).
According to Trainspotting’s Wiki, the film was shot in the summer of 1995 over seven weeks on a budget of $2.5 million with the cast and crew working out of an abandoned cigarette factory in Glasgow. Due to a lack of budget and time constraints, most scenes were done in one take which contributed to the grungy look of the film. See that’s what I love about films like this. They aren’t manufactured in the luxurious studios of Hollywood. The elbow grease and grittiness that we feel from the film is an extension of the way the film was made.
Efilmcritics.com’s Scott Weinberg put it best when he wrote: “If you want to tell the ugly truth about an unpleasant topic, do it colorfully, unflinchingly and without apology.”
Oh and P.S. the soundtrack is full of Iggy Pop, Goldie, and David Bowie–enough said.