Just finished watching the movie Trainspotting for about the 1,000th time. It is one of my all time favorite movies & remains as relevant today as it did when it came out in 1996. Sadly I did not see the film during its theatrical run, but I caught it one night on cable.
Mark Renton, as portrayed by the incredible Ewan McGregor, is a heroin addict of the worst sort – hopelessly addicted, lying to his family, and surrounded by friends who are as bad off, if not worse, as he is. The story follows his attempts to clean up and become a “useful part of society.”
Beyond the intense scenes of heroin use, rehab, recovery, and much, much more, the movie tells a great story about the fact that sometimes we have to be the bad guy to find our path to being the good guy.
“The truth is that I’m a bad person. But, that’s gonna change – I’m going to change. This is the last of that sort of thing. Now I’m cleaning up and I’m moving on, going straight and choosing life. I’m looking forward to it already. I’m gonna be just like you. The job, the family, the fucking big television. The washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electric tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisure wear, luggage, three piece suite, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing gutters, getting by, looking ahead, the day you die.”
–Mark Renton, Trainspotting
Mark encounters many people during the course of his journey. One of my absolute favorite characters is his girlfriend, Diane, played by the luminous Kelly Macdonald. Diane meets Mark during one of his bouts with kicking heroin, but quickly realizes that Mark is a druggie, albeit a complex one. At a critical junction in the film, Diane sets Mark on a path towards the life he doesn’t want to live, but that he eventually will, with the quote, “You’re not getting any younger, Mark. The world is changing, music is changing, even drugs are changing. You can’t stay in here all day dreaming about heroin and Ziggy Pop.” With those words, Mark realizes that there is more to life than shooting up. He has to start changing, and choosing.
Can he maintain his sobriety and stick with his new life? Doubtful with the questionable character of his mates Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie. They quickly re-invade his new life and, as expected, send him back down the road to addiction with a shady heroin deal.
At the end of the film, I think Mark finally finds his own path and starts to realize that if he doesn’t look out for himself, nobody else will. Yes, he has to resort to being the bad guy to make it to being the good guy, but that’s a choice. He chooses, finally! I also think he has the revelation that you can still be rebellious while choosing life and all that other shit we “adults” go for.
I absolutely love this movie. It’s tough to watch in some parts – I can’t watch the scenes about the baby. Like I said, Trainspotting is on my list of favorite movies. It’s a film classic that I will share with my kids one day, when they’re older. Much, much, much older.
Everybody has to choose. What will you choose?
“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”