by Thaddeus Pettry
ENG 282 Response
“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a starter home. Choose dental insurance, leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose your future. But why would anyone want to do a thing like that?”
The film Trainspotting centers around a group of heroin addicted friends in the gloomy Scottish town of Edinburgh, and highlights the pleasures and struggles that come with their addictions. From the groups highest highs to their lowest lows, the makers of this film have taken the controversial topic of drug use and while not glamorizing it by any means, they have shown that this topic can be shown in an upbeat way, with the immediate pleasures of drug use being seen as well as the desperate lows which will always follow.
The topic of drug use and the drug users that make up this subculture is most often villified and looked down upon by most mainstream media outlets with the lows of drug use always being the topic, while the pleasures(which are just as real) are always ignored. This film takes on both sides of drug use and perfectly captures the feelings and emotions that drug users and the people they affect go through.
The tag line for the movie which is posted above really sets the tone for this film and this topic. To sum it up, you can either choose a regular suburban life which while stable and safe, can also be unrewarding and dull, or you can choose a different way of living, in this case, the life of a drug user. The main character of the film is Renton, whose highs and lows drive the movie, while the rest of the bunch each add their own unique touch to the issues of drug addiction and everything that surrounds addiction.
A period of the movie which I think captures the experience of being a drug user perfectly is the first montage when the group decides to get back on heroin and thus begin stealing and committing other crimes in order to get the money to support their habit. After the initial joys of this lifestyle are shown, the subsequent horrors that these acts have lead to, including the neglectful death of a baby, and ultimately, Renton's overdose and hellish battle with withdrawal are seen. While the immediate blissfulness of heroin is clearly shown as Renton and his friends inject themselves, the scenes which follow show that no matter how pleasurable this drug may be, the downside of heroin will always nullify any potential pleasure.
For this film to take on the controversial issue of drug use and clearly show both very different sides of drug use while still finding a way to be humorous throughout is a testament to the films makers, who show a great understanding of drug addiction which is rarely seen in modern media. This film is not anti-drugs, but is an open ended look on the gap between normal culture and subculture and how individuals become enveloped in this struggle. The viewer is left to decide his own feelings towards the subject, an idea which is rare in today's media whom take an all powerful and all knowing approach to anything outside the “normal” standards which they have set.
“So choose life. Choose a job. Choose a starter home. Choose dental insurance, leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose your future. But why would anyone want to do a thing like that?” The answer to the question is up to you.