Based on Irvine Welsh’s cult novel, this classic British comedy drama starring Ewan McGregor as an Edinburgh heroin addict has lost none of its power over the years. The foul language and graphically grim subject matter may offend some, but this film, in which McGregor and his three loser friends run head first into one crisis after another, is an amazing mix of cinematic style and social satire.
Moving from the squalidly real to the flamboyantly surreal, the story hurtles along like an express train and McGregor’s insistent contempt for the world he’s rejected puts him in the front rank of movie rebels. Not since Saturday Night and Sunday Morning back in 1960 has a British movie announced itself with such a seductive flourish of angry style. But it’s a measure of the film’s grip on its characters that his antics are also all too credible.
It’s dazzlingly directed by Danny Boyle and ferociously well-acted by McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Kevin McKidd and, especially, Robert Carlyle as the psychotic Begbie, one of the most monstrous individuals ever to swagger his way across the screen.