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Trainspotting

A shocking, painfully subjective trawl through the Edinburgh heroin culture of the 1980’s, Irvine Welsh’s cult novel is hardly an obvious choice for the team that made Shallow Grave. Yet the film’s a triumph. Audaciously punching up the pitch-black comedy, juggling parallel character strands and juxtaposing image, music and voice-over with a virtuosity worthy of Scorsese on peak form. Trainspotting the movie captures precisely Welsh’e insolent, amoral intelligence. Amoral, but not unthinking, and certainly not unfeeling. Nihilism runs deep in this movie, emotion cannot be countenanced, only blocked off by another hit, another gag, but the anarchic, exhilarating rush of the highs can’t drown out the subsequent , devastating lows – these are the two sides of the same desperation. Danny Boyle’s intuitive, vital, empathetic direction pushes so for, the move flies on sheer momentum – that and the bravura performances from Ewen Bremer’s Spud, Robert Carlyle’s terrifying Begbie and, especially Ewan McGregor’s Renton, who supplies a low-key, charismatic centre. This may not have the weight of ‘Great Art’, but it crystallises youthful disaffection with the verve of the best and brightest pop culture. A sensation.
U.K., 1996,colour, 93mins

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