Trainspotting (1995)

This knockabout heroin-addict ensemble piece put Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor on the map and proved a shot in the arm for 1990s British cinema.

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Introduction

“A voyeuristic insight into heroin addiction, Trainspotting also reflects wider society. The viewer can identify with the addicts because they are extreme versions of us all.”
Edwin Page, Ordinary Heroes: The Films of Danny Boyle, 2009

If the Edinburgh tourist board had little reason to thank director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald, writer John Hodge and star Ewan McGregor for this bravura adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s scabrous novel of junkie street life, the British film industry and a million student walls and CD players certainly did.

Focused on the misadventures of Mark Renton and his off-kilter cohorts – played by Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner and Kevin McKidd – Trainspotting lived up to its bold publicity campaign. It was a kinetic, viscerally compelling incursion into a British filmic landscape then dominated by polite period drama and worthy social observation. Irreverent and exuberant yet often squalid and horrific, it remains one of the strongest artefacts of mid-1990s ‘Cool Britannia’.

Boyle, Macdonald, Hodge and McGregor previously collaborated on psychological thriller Shallow Grave (1994) and would again on the US-set kidnap comedy A Life Less Ordinary (1997).

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