With Filth hitting our cinemas on 27th of September, Jo says Hit Play on another Irvine Welsh adaptation.
Choose an award winning novel by Irvine Welsh.
Choose an up and coming British director and a young cast of unknown actors.
Choose a gritty Scottish setting.
Or, like the characters of the iconic Brit-flick Trainspotting, you can forget all of that and choose heroin instead.
Almost twenty years on and Danny Boyle’s gritty low budget take on heroin addiction still ranks amongst the best British films ever made. The films refusal to sugar coat the highs and lows of addiction means that even today it’s still considered controversial.
Boyle today is accepted as one of the top film makers in the world but in 1994,he was new to the world of film. His first full length feature film, Shallow Grave, was a success and lead to his attachment to Irvine Welsh’s novel. After securing a small budget from Channel 4 Film, he began a seven week shoot. His budget restraints meant more hands on effects were employed as well as most of the scenes only being shot once. Instead of hindering the film, this only adds to its raw power and gritty feel. He cast one of his leads from Shallow Grave to play Renton and the rest of the cast were made up of relatively unknown actors.
Boyle tells the story through the eyes of an addict. Once Renton’s parent intervene and lock him in a room to get through withdrawal the audience is subjected to images, noises and feelings that are unimaginable. From Spuds jail chains banging on the wall, Diane singing and most shocking baby Dawn crawling on the ceiling towards him. The audience are pulled into a powerful story that up until that point, and rarely since, has been told.
Boyle’s mixture of surreal film making and gritty social realisms is never more accomplished than in Trainspooting. Like the characters, whose use of drugs leave them void to reality, you watch as Renton inserts rectal suppositories only to lose them in a toilet then swim down and get them. You’re forced to accept this dazed version of events as the characters have too.
In the scene where Renton takes a hit, overdoses and sinks into the floor the edges of the carpet are present in the following shots. They stay until he is taken to A&E, revived and hastily exhumed from inside his carpeted void.
The music of the film is vital in creating its context. From Iggy Pop to Underworld its 1980’s rock, brit-pop and electronica. The music does what a soundtrack should do in film, it enhances the story. From Lou Reeds Perfect Day during Renton’s dazed overdose to New Order’s Temptation inside a nightclub (during a sneaky Clockwork Orange reference). The varied styles of music enhance the thoughts, feelings and struggles of each character as well as creating its context.
The film is a masterpiece of cinema and considered Boyle’s greatest work (although, I will put up one hell of a debate for 28 Day Later). Its a brilliant, if unsavoury story that is expertly directly and wonderfully acted. In another twenty years time, critics and audiences alike will still marvel at its power and with whispers of the sequel, Porno, on the cards we may even have more to marvel at.