Case Number 22276: Small Claims Court


Lionsgate // 1996 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // September 13th, 2011

The Charge

"I choose not to choose life."

The Case

Renton (Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer) is addicted to heroin. So are his pals Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller, Dexter) and Spud (Ewen Bremner, Fool's Gold). They spend most of their days getting high, finding ways to support their habit and hanging out with their buds Tommy (Kevin McKidd, Rome) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle, Stargate Universe).

Things can't stay happy go lucky for long and Renton finds himself trying to get rid of the habit and "choose life." But his friends and some poor choices keep forcing him back to heroin. How far will Renton go to escape from his addiction and will it be worth the effort when he does?

Trainspotting is a visually dynamic film filled with humor, horror and tons of quotable lines. It boosted so many careers for the cast, not to mention director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), that watching it now is like seeing a who's who of british acting talent.

I was actually a bit afraid to revisit the film. I hadn't seen it in almost a decade and I was afraid that, like a lot of my favorite films from the '90s, it was going to end up looking like a relic of its time. And yeah, some of it is a bit dated, mostly the clothes and some of the music. But the core story, the characters and Boyle's innovative approach to the material makes it all click.

It's great to watch Ewan McGregor in full force here. After seeing him in the Star Wars prequels I kinda forget how great he can really be. As Renton he nails the part, giving us a character that is both approachable and repugnant at the same time. He's a directionless slacker, but he's not an idiot. You can see his desire to break away from heroin and the life its made for him. At the same time you feel his loathing for the rest of a society that seems hellbent on keeping his in line. Its an angst filled performance that still keeps a lot of charm and appeal in it. It's a very difficult part, and McGregor makes it look easy.

As down and depressing as this story could be, Boyle and writers Irvine Welsh and John Hodge keep a lot of humor in the movie. It's got some great lines and if you can keep up with the rapid fire dialogue and thick Scottish accents you'll find yourself laughing at even the darkest moments.

It's Boyle's construction and execution of the film that makes Trainspotting an excellent representation of '90s cinema. For his second feature film, it's truly amazing that he was able to tackle such a complicated subject and tell it with an amazing dose of style and flair. Sure it gets a little too flashy for some folks, but in how many films you do you get to see a grown man plunge into the filthiest toilet in Scotland?

Lionsgate's Blu-ray presentation is top notch. The visuals look great. The 1080p shows off the vivid colors and detail of the film while keeping the blacks nice and solid. The soundtrack, containing a mixture of Iggy Pop, Blondie and '90s era techo, is balanced perfectly. The dialogue is nice and clear when it needs to be, and is appropriately overpowered by the music in the club scenes (handy subtitles appear during these). Lionsgate grabbed all the extras from their "Collector's Series" version of the film that came out in 2004 and ported them over to this Blu-ray, so you aren't losing anything in the upgrade. You also get a digital copy, so you can watch the film on your favorite portable device.

The Verdict

Renton and his mates may be guilty, but this movie isn't.

Review content copyright © 2011 Roman Martel; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile
Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)

* English (SDH)
* Spanish

Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Documentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurette
* Photo Gallery
* Trailers
* Digital Copy

* IMDb