Trainspotting – Director’s Cut


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Rating: R

Ewan McGregor as Mark “Rent Boy” Renton
Ewen Bremner as Daniel “Spud” Murphy
Jonny Lee Miller as Sick Boy
Kevin McKidd as Thomas “Tommy” McKenzie
Robert Carlyle as Francis “Franco” Begbie
Kelly Macdonald as Diane
Peter Mullan as Swanney
James Cosmo as Mr. Renton
Eileen Nicholas as Mrs. Renton
Susan Vidler as Allison
Pauline Lynch as Lizzy
Shirley Henderson as Gail

Special Features:
Anamorphic widescreen transfer International cut of film with commentary

DTS soundtrack

Cannes Film Festival interviews

Interviews with the filmmakers

Deleted scenes with optional commentary

Making of Trainspotting

Trainspotting Retrospective

Multi-angle featurette

Gallery and trailers

Biographies: Cast and Crew

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Television
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
French Language
Running Time: 94 Minutes

This movie is based on the novel by Irvine Welsh and was originally released in 1996.

Mark “Rent Boy” Renton is a heroin junkie living in Scotland. Rather than choosing a home, choosing a family, and choosing life, he has rejected everything in favor of the thrill of the high. His other junkie friends help keep him hooked on the drug. Reton tries repeatedly to kick the habit, but he keeps turning back to it to drown out his real world problems. Will he ever be able to get his life in order and leave his friends behind?

Trainspotting is rated R for graphic heroin use and resulting depravity, strong language, sex, nudity and some violence.

The Movie:
I’ve heard a lot about Trainspotting over the years, but I haven’t had the opportunity to check it out until now. (As such, I can’t comment on how this ‘Uncut International Version’ compares to the original U.S. version. There are probably more penises shown in this one.) Having seen the film, I’m impressed with what director Danny Boyle and the cast were able to accomplish. It’s an honest look at the life of a heroin junkie that avoids all the typical clichés of drug addiction film. It’s not too dark and depressing, but it doesn’t glamorize the life at all. It shows how junkies must steal to raise money, how they can pick up AIDS, how what they do isn’t a victimless crime, and how parents play a critical role in how these people’s lives turn out. More importantly it shows how bad friends can corrupt good character. While I don’t think this is necessarily intended to be an anti-drug film, I think it will make people think twice about trying the drug. The movie’s wicked sense of humor in the midst of all this otherwise depressing subject matter makes it a little more accessible, as well.

Danny Boyle displays his talent for direction in this film. There are many cool shots in the movie and the scenes are cleverly edited. The opening sequence is a perfect example of this where we are quickly introduced to all the characters, the story is established, and we get a quick taste of their lifestyle in a rapid montage. Throw in some Iggy Pop music and you have a quick hook for audiences. Other scenes throughout the film are creatively set up. When Renton starts having hallucinations, there are interesting camera shots of him under sheets, sinking into a carpet, and even diving into a toilet. If you haven’t seen Boyle’s other works, this will make you want to check them out.

As a Star Wars fan, I was really interested in seeing what Ewan McGregor was like in this role. While it probably got him noticed for Star Wars, it is about as far away from Obi-Wan Kenobi as you could possibly get. McGregor plays the role well. Despite Renton being a junkie, a thief, and general lowlife, he is still likable. He’s the narrator of the film and he guides us through this bizarre world of the drug culture. While you don’t agree with what he does, when he starts taking heroin again after kicking the habit, you almost understand his reasoning behind it. For him to make such a loser character sympathetic for audiences is quite an accomplishment. The rest of the cast is also excellent. Robert Carlyle is violent and intimidating as Francis “Franco” Begbie. Ewen Bremner is also a sympathetic loser as Daniel “Spud” Murphy. Kelly Macdonald is also a breakout star in her debut role as Diane, the teenager who seduces Renton.

Trainspotting has a great soundtrack with an eclectic mix of music styles. And as you might expect, it has a fair amount of profanity, nudity, and disturbing images in it. This is not a film for everybody, so be warned. But it is noteworthy because it’s a movie where a number of outstanding talents got together and made an impressive film. The only reason I rated it lower was because it’s not the genre of film that I really go for, but I recognize that it was very well made.

The Extras:
There are two discs included in this DVD set. Here are the highlights of the extras:

Audio Commentary – Ewan McGregor, Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge, and others provide the commentary for this film. They were recorded separately and spliced together for this DVD. Ewan McGregor kind of hosts the commentary and introduces each speaker as they make their comment. It’s not a real exciting commentary, but it is informative. They discuss the challenges of adapting the book, how they set up certain shots, casting, etc. If you’re a fan of the film it’s probably worth listening to, but it’s not a real draw of the extras in my opinion.

Cannes Film Festival interviews – When Trainspotting debuted at the Cannes Film Festival (out of competition), there was a special screening of the film and a party afterwards. A few of the cast were interviewed as well as some of the guests. They include Ewan McGregor, Martin Landau, Toni Collette, and others. It’s not much more than a few brief and shallow questions asked by press on the red carpet, so don’t expect any major insights into the film here.

Interviews with the filmmakers – There are a few interviews with the film crew included on the DVD. They cover the production design, the sound of the film, and other topics. They include footage originally shot as the movie was being made and footage from February 2003. This newest footage is part of the “retrospective” in the extras. They are brief, but they get into the details of how the film was made and the thinking behind it. It’s a little dry for casual audiences, but the die hard Trainspotting fan will enjoy it.

Deleted scenes with optional commentary – There are around 9 deleted scenes presented here and they are all rather brief. The most notable is one where Renton meets up with his former dealer who is in the hospital and had to have his leg amputated. Another scene reveals that Diane has dumped Renton for a boyfriend her own age. None of these are integral to the plot, but I suppose they are good additions for the sake of completeness.

Making of Trainspotting – This is your typical “making of” video. Most of the footage is from when the friends go out into the country. There’s a brief interview with Ewan McGregor (one of the few on the DVD) as well as the other cast members. They discuss their characters, what it was like preparing for the film, and more.

Multi-angle featurette – In this feature director Danny Boyle looks at vintage behind the scenes footage of them shooting a scene where a needle injects heroin into a prosthetic arm. Boyle cringes as he sees his younger self on camera, but he talks about the difficulty of setting the scene up, how it was censored in the US, and more. You can switch between views of the original footage, Boyle watching the TV screen, or a split screen.

The Bottom Line:
Trainspotting is an interesting film, but it’s not for everybody. Disturbing images and themes will probably scare away casual viewers.