The fact that "Pulp Fiction" grabbed America's funnybone while "Trainspotting" leaves Americans dazed in their seats is another reminder that a particular humor gene from the mother country didn't travel well to the colonies.
Leave it to the British to make "Trainspotting." In American hands, a movie about life on the sharp end of a heroin hypodermic would surely have been a heavy-handed sermon about excess or a one-note lesson about life in the gutter. This film about a group of young Scots is, of course, neither.
There's a lot of British sensibility in this film, and, in the end, that is probably what separates Britains and Americans in their reaction to this movie. The fact that "Pulp Fiction" grabbed America's funnybone while "Trainspotting" leaves Americans dazed in their seats is another reminder that a particular humor gene from the mother country didn't travel well to the colonies.
Writer John Hodge and Director Danny Boyle have imagined a group of young derelicts whose central figure is the literate, funny narrator of their story. Renton (Ewan McGregor) manages to wring laughs from the details of the slovenly landscape he inhabits as well as from the misadventures of his shiftless buddies. This is a group headed straight to hell, arms linked, one-liners tripping from their tongues. Because Renton is smart enough to know he's going down, the audience has a lifeline of hope for his salvation.
Faced, as they see it, with the choice of the pleasures of heroin or lives of mortgages, valium, game shows, and junk food, the guys choose drugs. After watching Mom and Dad planted every evening on aluminum chairs at the kitchen table in front of the telly, anything else looks exciting. Forget the less destructive alternatives that might have punctured or even transcended the bottomless boredom that is their birthright; this group rebels by injecting pure pleasure into their veins while soaking themselves in squalor.
In a scene that manages to surpass Uma Thurman's return from an overdose in "Pulp Fiction," Renton dreams of an ebony toilet seat with silk toilet paper, and finds instead a well of unimaginable filth into which he dives in desperate search for the tools of his pleasure.
As they steal prescription drugs from old people--"the drugs normal people take for unhappiness and pain"--Renton muses about his mother, who "in her own respectable way is also a drug addict." It's the same old story: another hit takes all the pain away. If his mother gets hers from the doctors, Renton and his friends rob, steal, victimize the innocent, "go down, get up--and never have enough."
When Renton finally chooses survival, he plunges into the sweats, chills, pain, cravings, and hallucinations of withdrawal. A writhing wreck of raw nerves, he is swamped by the depression that "lets you know you're in the land of the living dead."
Wisecracking all the way, Renton stumbled his way into alcohol, heroin, and vomit. As he works through the deadly aftermath, he surrenders: "I'm going straight; I'm choosing life, starter home, junk food, family Christmas." As if there were nothing in between.
Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 488
Studio : Miramax
Rating : R
Running Time: 1h30m
Copyright (c) Illusion
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