Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom, 1996. Channel Four Films, Figment Films, The Noel Gay Motion Picture Company. Screenplay by John Hodge, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh. Cinematography by Brian Tufano. Produced by Andrew Macdonald. Production Design by Kave Quinn. Costume Design by Rachael Fleming. Film Editing by Masahiro Hirakubo. Academy Awards 1996. Boston Film Critics Awards 1996. Independent Spirit Awards 1996. National Board of Review Awards 1996.
Danny Boyle followed his underground hit Shallow Grave with a mainstream runaway success, a tale of Scottish heroin junkies that plays like a twisted fairy tale. Ewan McGregor has star power to spare as an addict who decides that the endless days of shooting up and kicking it with the boys must come to an end, devoting himself to getting off the stuff but constantly drawn back into its soothing temptation. It sounds miserable except that his friends are as charismatic as he is (just about everyone in the cast went on to bigger and better since, and deservedly so) and Boyle uses fantasy sequences to detail as much of the horrors of the life (like a dead baby crawling on the ceiling) as its momentary pleasures. Witty, charismatic and chock full of energy, it’s a film brimming with laughs that never undermine the serious economic and cultural issues that it is very sharply addressing.