Trainspotting (Dir. Danny Boyle, 1996)
When I was in High School @jaydn.jones.31
was the only one in our friendship group who had seen Trainspotting. I can’t recall a time when he didn’t bang on about the film, and from what he said about the subject matter, I wasn’t particularly fussed to see it. At 18-years-old, I felt I was at an appropriate age to sit down and actually watch a film about heroin addiction – and was completely blown away by Boyle’s mastery.
After my initial viewing, I took the disc out, poured myself a cup of tea and stuck it back on (something I’ve done with only a handful of films). It takes its cues from Kubrick and Scorsese, but the pure adrenal rush takes us on a journey through youth and addiction and stylizes it in a way that few films can achieve. In 1996, critics said that the film glorifies heroin usage, I don’t know anyone who could watch Trainspotting and say, “Sod it, I’d try it.” because Boyle ruins the upbeat tone to hit you where it hurts when and as often as he can. The sequence with Baby Dawn, without going too much into it, genuinely scarred me but Boyle manages to treat all of these elements in a bold, mature and engaging way.
Trainspotting is ranked as #10
on the BFI’s list of best films and it’s easy to understand why. The film, in the UK, became a pop culture phenomenon, paying dividends to other filmmakers, while examining the heroin epidemic in the working-class Scottish youth of the 1980s and 1990s. This film made on a small £1.5M budget shook Hollywood to its core. If Channel 4 films can carry such weight with audiences – how do the Hollywood studios look in comparison?
Stunning soundtracks, visuals, compelling narratives and well-crafted characters – if you want to see one of the best-living British filmmakers at height of their art – choose Danny Boyle. Choose Trainspotting.
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