In time I have found that the majority of that which I enjoyed in the past is still what I enjoy today in the present, and likely what I will enjoy in the future. This thought came to be while watching a classic film, one which my eyes first gazed upon at the tender age of fifteen. It was a standard night in my cousins basement, we ate some cake (or pie I think), we listened to a bit of music (maybe Nirvana or some Radiohead, not sure, but it was some nineties treasure, that I know), and we decided to watch a movie on the small television in the corner near the old bar. That movie was TRAINSPOTTING (CUE: BORN SLIPPY NUXX!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvc-zfK8G38).
While watching this film for the first time I felt totally engaged by what I felt was a genuine study of shady, interesting, but generally “fucked up” characters. This was also the moment that made me realize how entertaining “Fucked Up” characters can be to watch. In my own life I have found this to be true, but also from a distance; fucked up characters in movies are viewed through a lens; fucked up characters in real life are viewed through your own very eyes and can be experienced not through gazing but through immediate interaction, and they can fuck up your life all the same as their own. I am trying to say that after living a bit more I can only tell you that this movie stays truthful and authentic, and not the contraposition to this, that being full of lies, untruths and reeking of inauthenticity.
Take for example the character of Francis Begbie. He is still one of my favorite characters after all of these years. This is because he is portrayed by Robert Carlyle, who is a brilliant actor, but also because the portrayal seems so true. If I had a friend like Begbie I’d be afraid, often times acquiesce his demands, and still consider him a “mate.” This is because in my own life I have met people like Begbie, albeit more subtle forms of his person. He is a perfect embodiment of a character type in a crazy world. This is because the world of Trainspotting, IS A MICROCOSM, and its only more relevant as time passes on and on and on….( Or at least it is for me; but again I am only twenty-one years old what the fuck do I know.)
In being a microcosm, it is more proof to back the authenticity of this film. It stays true to many forms of life and the ever changing ways in which it (life) passes. Begbie is the type of friend who will do whatever they can to stay in control, and be the leader by force; the control freak. This is found in real life, and when you see it in Trainspotting you cannot help but think about the examples that the representation can be ascribed to in your own life. This, however, can only be realized after much time has passed. And only after you have garnered enough experience meeting an array of life’s characters can these fictional ones truly be understood.
To this day I am still interested in the aforementioned character. Time has only made him and his actions more thought provoking. But the one character arc that is the backbone of this film is that of Mark Renton. The duality of his relationships in the context of his hazardous lifestyle sometimes reminds me of a life that a stubborn person leads. For Renton to take so long in realizing the unfortunate stances that his friends have chosen in life, and then to come to the realization that they are his “so called mates” as opposed to “mates”, it stands as a better reminder of learning with age who your friends are and who your enemies are. The duality is “who my real friends are” and then the realization of “what a so-called friend is.” This is highly existential, and often times a question that is left unanswered by life, but answered in moments of deep thought; but this lasts only for a moment because, like Renton, we are in flux…
This is a still from my favorite scene in the film. Diane, a fifteen year old student at a Catholic school who’s precociousness provides Renton with the most thrilling analysis of change, is laying across the bed in a loose shirt and nothing else, smoking some hash and speaking. She reminds Renton that he is not getting any younger, and that he is no longer up to speed on the culture which he so perfectly embodies (the Iggy Pop fan with a heroin addiction). Times are changing, and everything is not what you think it is. Renton, you need to move on. She is reminding him that the world is changing, that it is in flux, and that everything must change. Renton, through his addiction to heroin, has forgotten this.
The time to see who your friends really are, and the time to see what you truly want to be, has come. I think that this moment is upon me and anyone who is currently entering the adult years of life. This film shows that, and more…
Ultimately, Renton decides to leave his home, finds a job, and moves to another city. But his problems follow him.
When you have to make a decision, it is usually a tough one. If you have to make it, you make it; if you don’t, and have the chance to wait and think about it, you normally do. Renton’s “so-called mates” follow him to his new life. They taint it, make it harder for him, and do not realize their selfishness in the process. They plan a drug deal, Renton invests all of his savings to make it happen, they acquire the product, they travel, Renton does Heroin for the last time, and they arrive at the hotel. They do the deal, and get the money and celebrate like four friends. Its in this moment that Renton realizes the delusion he has put himself into. To think that his friends are good for him? When they are not. He realizes that his years of being “rent boy” had left him behind.
His final action is to steal the money from his friends, and use it to start over, to choose life. To move on and be a “normal person”. The end monologue alludes to this: “Starter Home, Leisure Wear, Dental Insurance, Looking Ahead Till The Day I Die.” Renton decides to move on, and also admits that he is indeed just as bad as the friends he once had.
With this we can relate to Renton by admitting that we are all imperfect agents in life; this is also the reason for the post. Through life we learn to accept that we are not squeaky clean all the time. But only through accepting that, and then willing to do better can we move on. This is why Trainspotting is still a fantastic example of a Microcosm of which to base the real world on. Real life is not a comedy where everyone is happy at the end, and where some superstar actor walks round with sparkling white teeth and chiseled abs. Life can be looked at more closely when examining movies about characters who are capable of being REAL to us. To move on, you gotta be real dudes. (Whatever, I am only 21 years old so what the fuck do I know).