Get Your Reps In: “Trainspotting” Has Its Heroin Cake and Eats It Too

What to see at Portland’s repertory theaters.

Trainspotting (IMDB)

Trainspotting (1996)

What would Gen X look like in 4K?

Probably something like the new restoration of Trainspotting, which comes to Cinema 21 on July 12 and 13.

Danny Boyle’s breakout film is a frenetic, gutter-scraping roller coaster of five Edinburgh mates (led and narrated by Ewan McGregor) rejecting working-class mundanity and choosing heroin, hedonism and street crime instead.

“We would’ve injected vitamin C if only they made it illegal,” Renton (McGregor) brags of his friend group’s drug prowess.

Unlike most generational touchstones about alienated young people, Trainspotting has its cake and eats it, too.

It gets to be ruthlessly clever about the emptiness of workaday jobs and lifestyle creep while finding the rebellion far more self-destructive.

It gets to bask in the sizzling style of the characters’ reckless numbness (see: the iconic Britpop-meets-techno soundtrack) while laying bare their obvious pain (see: Boyle putting a camera inside a syringe and one of the saddest accidental deaths ever committed to film).

Best of all, it’s clear that even Renton, the movie’s maestro of cynicism, has an instinct for hope—even if just the reflexive hope of some poor creature scampering toward the light at a tunnel’s end. Cinema 21, July 12-13.


Academy: Blazing Saddles (1974), July 12–18. Ran (1985), July 12–18. River’s Edge (1986), July 12–18. Cinema 21: Network (1976), July 13. Big Shark (2023), July 14. Cinemagic: The Little Mermaid (1989), July 14. Clinton: Mars Express (2023), July 12. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), July 13. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), July 13. Fantastic Planet (1973), July 14. Solaris (1972), July 16. Hollywood: White Chicks (2004), July 13. Like Water for Chocolate (1992), July 14. Sweet Charity (1969), July 13–14. Rope (1948), preceded by Thom Hilton’s Matinee Baby (2024), July 15. Blood Junkie (2010), July 16. Tomorrow: The Devil Wears Prada (2006), July 12. The Elephant 6 Recording Co. (2022), July 13.

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