One Liner Review:
A stylish and unusual story of a group of drug-using friends in Scotland and the problems they get themselves into.
A stylistic masterpiece, this movie is loaded up with fresh humor and ideas. It’s about five friends in Scotland who cheat, steal, and shoot up heroin. That plot might not sound like much, but this movie isn’t about plot. It’s about the lifestyle. It’s about the funny little adventures these kids get involved in. sometimes it’s as simple as stealing a friend’s homemade porno tape or picking up a girl at a night club and then finding out she’s not who you thought she was. The dialogue is very witty, with characters talking about all things from fights they’ve witnessed, birthdays they’ve missed for concerts, or James bond movies. Most movies about heroin junkies show the depressing side only. Trainspotting doesn’t forget to show the reasons why the characters are doing it too. It tries to get into the mindset of these kids and even takes us through a couple of hallucinations, whether it’s through a toilet bowl or into a carpet. The storyline is the weakest aspect of the movie, since this is more of a character study than a plot driven film, but even that picks up as the movie goes on and starts to make more sense in a big picture scheme of things kind of way. Even the music here is well-thought out and fantastic. Trainspotting is something different and creative and it’s a hell of a ride.
Full Length Analysis:
Trainspotting is a pretty brilliant movie, based on style, humor, and dialogue. It’s a movie where everything really just came together perfectly. The look and feel of the film, including a powerful soundtrack and clever camera shot ideas, are all-terrific. The storyline actually ends up being the weakest part of the film, and that’s intentional as this is not a traditional story or the usual way of telling a drug story. It’s not that there are any problems with the story; it’s just that we’re not used to seeing anything like it before, and so it catches us off guard.
The movie is based on an Irwin Welch book about this group of kids, in there twenties, who are a bunch of friends. There are five of them, and the book is really a series of short stories about them, not necessarily having a single connected narrative. That’s the reason why, a lot of times, it seems like the movie doesn’t have one either. This is a film that is about characters more than it is about story. In fact, the entire first act of the film is all about setting up and introducing characters to us, and giving us scenes that have nothing to do with the story, but certainly tell us a lot about the characters involved.
The movie opens with the very famous voice-over monologue “choose life.” it is Renton (Ewan McGregor, in his breakout role), who is running around the streets with his friend, spud, being chased by cops, and speaking this monologue to us. We listen to it, and to him talking about all of the trivial material things that are a part of people’s daily lives, such as washing machines. As we listen, we see Renton getting tackled by the police and not seeming to care about it all that much (when he is nearly run over by a car, instead being angry or upset, or even running off, he just stands there, laughing.)
This opening sequence ends up turning into a montage of Renton and all of his friends together, doing things. We first see the five of them playing soccer together, and get titles over a freeze frame of each character that tells us the character’s name. This happens to be very helpful, since we are suddenly given five names all at once, and the names and accents of the boys, aren’t always easy to understand.
There’s Begbie, (Robert Carlyle), who we see knocking a guy down on the field. This is typical Begbie, an angry guy who is a fighter and an explosive madman. Begbie is the scariest of the bunch of them, and also the most difficult to understand. That’s intentional, as if Begbie doesn’t really care if anyone understands him or not. He’ll sit around telling a story to everyone, and even though they might not understand a word of it, they better mark sure to laugh. Begbie is basically be daring them not to laugh and so, of course, they do.
There’s also Tommy, Sick Boy, and spud. With Sick Boy, we can’t tell a whole lot at the very beginning. Tommy, though is the most athletic of the bunch, decked out in a headband, and really going after the ball, running into a corner despite being surrounded by opposing players. Even in this opening shot of Tommy, you can see that he is the outsider of the group, the only one who actually cares about the game, while the others pretty much just stand there. And then there’s spud, which is playing goalie for them, and looks like he was just thrown into the position by his friends, having no clue how to do it. This is spud’s role. He is the fool of the group, the sucker who goes along with them, but is rarely consulted for decision-making and input.
The montage has some pretty cool stylistic cuts between things, such as a moment where a soccer ball is kicked at Renton’s head, and he falls backwards onto the field. His falling is cut with a moment of him falling backwards onto the floor at mother superiors, the place where they do heroin. With this falling back shot, at mother superiors, Renton has just injected a hit of heroin into his arm. By the end of the montage, we have heard characters talk about heroin, (there is a woman who stays with them at mother superiors, seems to be having a thing with Sick Boy, and says a line about how heroin beats sex by a long shot). We have heard Renton’s voice over (which plays for the entire duration of the opening montage), claim that there’s a reason they do it, because it is amazing. He says that they’re not stupid, and they only do it because it feels so great. He ends the voice over by saying that he chose not to choose life, but to choose heroin, and how after all, he had nothing to do. And we also see Renton and his friends out and about and get the sense of the group, as well as a slight introduction to which each of these characters is.
That’s when the train noise and black screen come on and the words Trainspotting appear. It’s the title of the movie and book, and yet in the film, this title is never explained. This is probably because it means a lot of things and it is in many ways open to interpretation. I always thought the word had something to do with tracks on the arm of a heroin junkie. I figured it was like the code between fellow heroin users, that if you recognized another one of the club, you were Trainspotting. Turns out, I wasn’t all that off. The term comes from a scene in the book, where Renton and Begbie go down to an abandoned subway platform, where heroin junkies go to shoot up. When these guys go down to this spot, they say that they are going “Trainspotting.” but then over time, the term changed and began to mean being obsessed with something trivial and even detrimental, such as Sick Boy’s obsession with Sean Connery or the group’s obsession with heroin. That last definition is the one I have the hardest time with. It might be the right one, (or it might not be), but it doesn’t seem to connect with the term “Trainspotting,” as much as the other definitions do.
It’s time to really meet the characters now. Each one of them basically gets his own scene or his own scene with Renton. It all starts with Renton getting some suppositories from a local dealer. Renton is trying to get clean and takes us through the ingredients he will be using to do it. The suppositories are meant to give him one final hit. Only they don’t work exactly as planned and cause him to be in tremendous need of a bathroom when the only one around is the worst bathroom in Scotland. Renton goes in, uses the toilet, loses the suppositories, and has to dive into the toilet bowl to get them. And this is where the first hallucination fantasy comes in as Renton literally crawls through the toilet bowl and ends up underwater in the sea. The whole sequence has been interpreted by many to be metaphorical, that once Renton gets down there, everything is nice and beautiful, but as it happens, that was just a coincidence and it was originally meant to be quite disgusting down there in the sea.
After Renton makes it out of the toilet, we get to meet some of the other characters, starting with Sick Boy. As played by Johnny lee miller, Sick Boy is the first of Renton’s friends to really get a scene alone with Renton, at the start of the film. Sick Boy, with his bleached blonde hair, is an interesting character. He looks like a punk rock star, and talks nearly non-stop about Sean Connery. All of the characters are Scottish, and born and raised in Scotland, and Connery is the closest thing that Sick Boy has to a national hero. Connery is of course, not from Scotland, but from its neighbor, Wales. Still, Wales shares the island with Scotland and England, and it’s enough for Sick Boy to really find interesting and talk about the trajectory of the actor’s career. In really life, Johnny Lee Miller is the only actor of the group who is not Scottish. He is English, and his grandfather played the character m in the original Sean Connery bond films. So in many ways the actor is already connected to the Sick Boy character.
For this first Sick Boy scene, he and Renton go out to a park to lie down in the open field and shoot their air gun rifle. The scene begins with Renton explaining that both he and Sick Boy have decided to stop taking heroin, and that Sick Boy has only come off it to show Renton how easily he can do it. I love that idea, that Sick Boy is such a jerk that he is only stopping so that he can annoy his friend who will have a hard time with it. He will be showing that he can do a better job of easily staying clean, than his friend can. That’s what I mean by the humor of this movie. It’s not slapstick or anything; it’s just very funny ideas. And hearing Renton talk about it makes it even funnier.
After Sick Boy, we meet spud for is going for a job interview. Only he doesn’t want to get the job. Spud is collecting unemployment, and in order to keep doing that, he has to show that he is going on interviews, trying to find a job. So Renton gives him some speed and spud goes into the interview and talks a mile a minute. The dialogue here is very funny, with spud admitting that he lied on his application to get his foot in the door and the people interviewing him saying that he didn’t need to do that, because he already had his foot in the door.
From spud we go to Begbie. He and Tommy really sort of get introduced together. First we see Begbie sitting at a bar, surrounded by his mates, telling a story. He ends by throwing a glass off the side of the balcony, just tossing it behind him and over his shoulder, as if he could care less. Then we cut to a scene of Renton and Tommy with Tommy talking all about Begbie. Tommy is lifting weights while talking, always the athletic one. He tells of another outing where he and Begbie were at a bar playing pool, and Begbie went nuts on a guy in the corner making noise with his chips. Begbie blamed this guy for his poor pool playing and beat the guy up. The scene is funny because Tommy is trying desperately to lose the game, and yet all of his shots go in. it also tells us a little more about Begbie. And then it also puts us in this scene, in Tommy’s apartment, which will lead into the real story of the film.
The Tommy’s apartment scene leads to a couple of things, all of them foreshadowing for the rest of the film. First, it shows us how nice and organized Tommy’s apartment is. Later on we will see what it has become. Secondly, the scene has Renton lying on the floor, switching tapes out of boxes to fool his friend. He steals Tommy’s sex tape that Tommy made with his girlfriend. Renton switches that tape with a greatest soccer goals tape and leaves with the tape in the soccer goals box, asking Tommy if he can borrow it. This will end up being the final blow that causes Tommy’s breakup with his girlfriend, leads Tommy to start taking heroin, and then to getting aids and dying. But all of that comes much later on.
We come back to the bar, where Begbie threw the glass over his should and off the balcony and the screen froze. Using a freeze frame there was such a great idea, because it really captured the moment of what had just happened, as opposed to if he just threw it, we might not have even realized. Now we see the results of his actions, as the glass hits a woman in the face, and Begbie goes downstairs and starts a huge bar fight. His friends watch from the balcony in disbelief, and this is the end of the first act. It was an act of mostly character introductions, with one small plot point that will snowball and lead too much bigger things. That would be Renton stealing the tape from Tommy’s apartment.
Act 2 of the movie starts with a night out at the volcano club. The music is kind of old, like eighties stuff. We see all five guys at the club, separated into different groups. We also see some of their girlfriends there. Sick Boy is off somewhere courting some girls. Begbie is standing in another corner of the place, doing the same thing. Renton is standing by himself somewhere, scouting the place out, occasionally trying to mix in and dance, and being rejected by the girls on the dance floor. Then there’s Tommy and spud, sitting at the far end of a room having a conversation. They shout over the music just to be able to hear each other and be heard. And finally there are Tommy and spud’s girlfriends in the bathroom, talking about sex. Spud’s girlfriend has been withholding it from him as a kind of game.
Tommy tells spud a story about how he missed his girlfriend, Lizzie’s birthday. He forgot about it and had tickets to an Iggy Pop concert for that night. He chose to go to the concert. This is the first reason we see for Tommy being a bad boyfriend. The second will be the videotape, which is hardly his fault. When Lizzie and spud’s girlfriend come out of the bathroom and approach their men, they all ask each other what the other ones were talking about, and everybody lies. The guys say football and the girls say shopping.
Mark meets a nice girl at this bar by watching her work the room on her way out and takes advantage of the guys who are really into her. Mark follows her out of the volcano club and tries to put on a funny face about the idea of going home with her. It doesn’t seem to be working, and so she hops in a cab. Only she leaves the door opened and the driver asks mark if he’s coming. He doesn’t wait for a formal invitation and jumps right into the back seat.
Now we get a montage of three characters and their sex-capades sliced together. There’s Tommy and Lizzy who go home to get it on. Then there’s spud, which is so drunk he can barely walk as his girlfriend grabs him and tries to seduce him. Finally, there’s mark Renton and Diane (Kelly McDonald, in her first movie role.) they go back to her place and are the only ones of the three who are successful. Spud passes out on his girlfriend’s bed, and Tommy and Lizzy try to put their tape in to watch it and learn that it is not the right tape. They get a rude awakening when commentary about soccer goals comes on the screen.
This entire sequence is played to the tune of a remake of the Blondie song, Atomic, starting up with the moment Renton saw Diane at the club. At that very moment, the music changed, switching over to this song. And it continues to play once the characters are back at their homes getting it on. When mark scores with Diane, we hear the commentary of a soccer goal being scored in the tape that Tommy and Lizzy have put in. when mark is finished, he makes a comment about how he hasn’t felt that good since a certain player scored a goal in a certain game. The comparisons between the mark scene and the Tommy scene are very funny. Spud has taken himself out of the race by passing out. And Sick Boy and Begbie are two of the same. They are both the villains of the movie, the predators who are up to no good. Begbie uses his temper and Sick Boy uses his trickery, but both are incredibly bad influences.
An example is that Sick Boy watches Tommy’s tape with Renton, sitting back and watching his friend have sex with his girlfriend, never realizing what this will all cost Tommy. When we see the characters the next morning, there’s spud having to deal with his girlfriend’s parents and an accident he had in the bed, and then there’s Tommy and Lizzy waiting outside the video store, thinking that maybe Tommy returned the tape by mistake.
Even Renton, who had the best night of the three of them, ends up walking into a problem when he wakes up in the morning. He finds himself waking up on the couch in a hallway with other kids riding bikes right by him. When he walks into the kitchen, he meets Diane’s parents and then sees her in the doorway, all decked out in a school girl’s uniform. She is a high school student. Mark walks her to school talking about why he can’t see her anymore and how it is illegal because she is so young.
The four guys (Begbie excluded) decide to take a train into the countryside to get away from all of this. It’s been a rough night and an even worse morning and the guys just need to get out of there. Tommy brings them to the country and wants to show them the beautiful hills of Scotland. Only once they get there, the boys aren’t very interested. This is the most symbolic scene of the movie. Tommy walks over the bridge and out toward the mountains and not one of the other three will even cross the bridge. Instead, they get onto the small wooden bridge, and stop. Renton even sits down. The other two (Sick Boy and spud), refuse to cross.
Renton now has it out with Tommy, shouting at each other to be heard over the distend land. Tommy talks about how beautiful Scotland is and Renton tells Tommy that he’s wrong. He tells him that being Scottish is being the lowest of the low. The English are idiots and idiots colonize the Scottish, so they’re even worse. Renton is the strongest opposition to Tommy, which is why he is the only one speaking, and it’s also why he is the only one sitting down. It’s as if the other two are caught in between, but Renton is the one who absolutely refuses to budge.
The boys go back toward the train and we hear Renton’s voice over say that it was at this time that he, Sick Boy, and spud decided to get back on heroin as quickly as possible. Only something else has changed. Tommy is about to join them. This countryside scene represents the turning point for Tommy. He got them out there and did his best to make his friends see the light, only they wouldn’t do it. And so, if you can’t beat them, join them. Maybe Tommy feels that if they saw this beautiful sight and even then, still chose to go back and do heroin over running around in the mountains, then heroin must be pretty amazing. Or maybe he felt like he will never get them out there again, and that was his one chance, and he blew it. Maybe he thinks that he got them so close, and that they took a chance by coming out there with him, now it’s time for him to give their interest a chance. Whatever he is thinking, this scene is definitely the turning point for Tommy’s character.
The countryside scene is really the scene that ends act 2. The first act was about the character introductions and the second act was about their lives outside of heroin. That included their girlfriends, their night at the club, and their attempt at going out to the countryside, which basically represented giving up heroin. Tommy, the athletic and healthy character, who refuses to do heroin, is the one who brought them out there. The countryside represents what his character is all about. Only now, all of that is about to change.
When they get back to the city, the boys start committing crimes to get money for heroin. It is now act 3, and things are about to get ugly. As the director, Danny Boyle has said about the first two acts, they were “a celebration of mayhem.” in the third act we get the downfall. The hard crash of reality. Tommy comes to see Renton who is high out of his mind at the time, slumped up against the floor, with his body leaning against a wall. Renton is passed out, or so it seems. When Tommy asks to try heroin, Renton has no expression. It is only when Tommy says that he has money to pay for it and holds up some money in the air that Renton starts to wake up and look at the money.
Things get worse; not only for Tommy, but also for all characters (all except for Begbie, who is not really around at this time.) act three is about the heroin junkies reclaiming their hobby. Since Begbie is not one of them, he is absent from most of the act. Now, the girl who stayed at mother superiors and spent a lot of time shooting up with Sick Boy has a baby. And one day that baby is found dead in his crib. There’s no explanation for how the baby died, but it can be assumed that it was some kind of malnourishment. Possibly starvation.
The characters are all a mess from this. Especially Sick Boy, who we now learn was the father. That shouldn’t be very surprising, since he was the one who spent the most time around this woman, but still Renton and the others never knew it before. That’s a sign of how out of it they all were, and especially are when they spend time at mother superiors, that they don’t notice the little things Sick Boy does with the baby or with this woman, to think that maybe he is the father.
The dead baby is Sick Boy’s downfall. Then we cut back to the opening chase sequence and see spud and Renton get caught by the police. Sick Boy is with them, but he hides in an alley, always looking out for himself. Spud and Renton stand before a judge, and spud gets sentenced to serve time in prison. That’s his downfall. We see Begbie at the local pub, sitting with Renton and his family, celebrating that Renton got off. When spud’s mom shows up, in disbelief that they are celebrating when her son has been sentenced, it is Begbie who tells her off. Renton tries to do the right thing and tell her that it’s not fair that spud got sentenced and he didn’t and then Begbie stands up and lets her have it, telling her that what happened to spud is all her fault. There’s a clear distinction between Renton and Begbie here.
At this point, Tommy, Sick Boy, and spud have all had their downfall. Now it’s Renton’s turn. He goes over to mother superiors, has an extremely strong hit of heroin, and passes out into the carpet. This is one of my favorite moments in the movie, played to the Lou Reed song, “perfect day.” of course the day, filled with all of these terrible things, is anything but perfect, and it’s actually a very sad sounding song. But what I love about the scene is the way that Renton basically melts into the carper, as if a grave forms in the center of the floor and Renton falls into it slowly, pulling the carpet in with him. I love it because I’ve had that feeling before of being so out of it that you feel yourself drifting more and more away from the conversation and noises that are going on all around you. I’ll always remember on my 21st birthday, celebrating in Rockville Center, and sitting on a bar stool drifting out of the conversation that two of my friends were having. I literally felt as if I was melting away from it and as if they and the sounds of their voices were so far away from me.
Renton is thrown into a cab by mother superior, taken by the cab driver to a local hospital, and then picked up by his parents. They bring him home, with the father carrying Renton into the room and putting him down on the bed, as if he is a child. This is mark Renton’s moment of change. He is being reborn, ready to start something new. Just a few scenes later, those will be Diane’s exact words to him, “you have to find something new.” but first, Renton has to go through the most painful detox imaginable.
That detox is all about hallucinating in the bed. Renton is locked into the room by his parents, and the music starts. He starts seeing things on the walls, on the ceiling, and all around his room. Tommy shows up, drugged out of his mind and looking a mess, barely able to keep him up as he leans back against the wall. Sick Boy shows up sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed, as if laughing at Renton. There’s the dead baby crawling on the ceiling, head spinning in the most horrific way. Renton tries to go under the covers to get away from all of this and Begbie shows up in his bed, underneath the covers with him. There is no escape, and Begbie, the most violent of the bunch is the last one you would want to be under the covers with you. Mark hears a clanging noise above the covers and lifts his head up t see spud, sitting on the door, letting the chains on his feet slam against the wooden door behind him. Renton is a mess and so are the lives of all of his friends. He has now hit his lowest point.
Things start to get a little better for Renton, but not a whole lot happier. We see him playing bingo with his parents, just sitting there in a booth while the world goes on, moving at rapid speeds, all around him. Renton looks incredibly depressed. He goes to see Tommy, and what he finds doesn’t exactly make him feel any better. At Tommy’s apartment, graffiti is all over the outside walls, saying things like AIDS, junkie, scum, and having an arrow pointing to Tommy’s apartment. When Tommy lets Renton in, Renton sees that his friend has truly fallen apart. The apartment is nothing more than a mattress on the floor, and Tommy falls on that mattress, unable to keep himself up.
Renton doesn’t know how to handle this. He starts kicking a soccer ball around, bouncing it off the wall, as a defense mechanism. He has to know that the breakup with Lizzie was in large part his fault because of the missing tape. On that train ride out to the countryside, the morning that Tommy and Lizzie broke up, you have to imagine that Tommy told his mates all about what happened. And now, Renton feels incredibly bad about Tommy, and not knowing what else he can do, he hands Tommy some money.
Diane comes to visit Renton, and that’s where she gives him the advice that he has to find something new. And so that’s exactly what he does. He goes to London. Act 4 begins with a montage of sights of London played to some very loud and fast music. We see Renton working in a real estate office, all cleaned up now, and ready to start over again. He has put Scotland behind him and this is the new mark Renton.
Diane sends him a letter and we hear her voice over while he reads it. She tells him about how each of his friends is doing, and we see a lot of them back in Scotland. Sick Boy is doing deals. Spud has gotten out of jail, but is now doing worse than even lying in the gutter with his head against a curb. And Begbie has gotten himself mixed up with crime and is now out on the run. That’s when Renton’s doorbell rings.
It is Begbie, come to stay with him. Renton has run away from his friends, but now they’re coming to find him. At this point, the movie is only an hour over. Now, that’s a good thing, because at no time was it dull or boring. In fact, just the opposite. It’s hard to believe that only an hour has gone by when you consider Tommy and where he was at the start of the film, and how far he has fallen. The entire film is only an hour and a half long, so it is now two thirds over, and Renton is done with the heroin problem. His new problem is his friends.
Renton and Begbie go out to a night club and there is a clear difference between this club and the one that they were in earlier in the film, the volcano. This new club is more modern. The music is more trance and club music and the scene is more like a rave. Even Begbie isn’t ready for this new world, as he picks up a transvestite and brings her into his car before learning what she is.
Sick Boy shows up, having come to find his friends, and we get a great shot of the three of them all sitting side by side with chips in their hands. The other two are eating away, but Renton is just sitting there, looking miserable. He’s not eating anything, and his friends, of course, don’t notice that anything is wrong. These are his two most selfish friends, and they suddenly start talking about selling Renton’s passport to make some money.
Renton decides right then that he has to escape them for good. He gets a secret locker somewhere, and stashes his passport in it before his friends can sell it. Then he puts the two of them up in one of the apartments he was showing that hasn’t been sold yet. When the boss goes to show the apartment one day, Begbie and Sick Boy come jumping out of a closet, and Renton loses his job.
This is the end of the fourth act. It was the first act where Renton realized he had to get away and made an attempt at it. Since things didn’t work out the way he planned, and his friends followed him there, he will have to try again, only this time improve on his mistakes. But first Renton and the others go back to Scotland for Tommy’s funeral. It is there that they pick up spud and bring him back into their circle.
The fifth and final act begins with a plan involving Russian sailors. They have a business situation, where they can buy heroin cheap, here in Scotland, and then bring it back to London and sell it there for much more than what they paid. The four guys take a meeting at mother superiors to discuss the plan. Three of them stand in a circle (Renton, Begbie, and Sick Boy,) while spud is in a chair at the far end of the room, always the outcast. Just like the start of the movie, where he was clearly thrown into being the goalie without any idea of how to do it, hear they are less than interested in his opinion.
It is only when Renton disagrees with the plan and is grasping at straws, trying to get the guys to see it his way, that he consults spud. He turns to spud and asks his friend if he wants to go back to jail. Spud doesn’t seem to mind and says he just wants the money. It’s an interesting scene, not only because of the way that spud is left out, but also because this is the first time that Begbie is at mother superiors. Only it doesn’t seem to be Mother Superior’s anymore. The guy who ran the place, mother superior, also known as Swannee, is nowhere to be found. None of the guys are shooting up. And the only reason why Begbie is there is because this is a plan about money more than it is about drugs.
Renton has given up heroin, but the boys make him be their guinea pig to test out the stuff they are buying. That’s because Begbie doesn’t trust anyone else. Sick Boy doesn’t want to do it, Begbie doesn’t trust spud, and so Renton is made to do it. This has got to be the final nail in the coffin for him of knowing that he has to ditch these guys as fast as possible. It’s probably one of the key moments where he decides it would be okay if he rips them off. After all, he is the one being used to test the stuff against his will.
The four of them take a bus ride into London and we see them all doing their thing. Begbie is drinking from a bottle on the bus. Renton goes to the bathroom to shoot up. This is one of the few things I don’t understand about the movie. Is he back on heroin now? Has taking it that once in order to test it, made him get back into it?
When they get to London, the boys make the deal with some shady men who wear suits and carry around a brief case full of money. Then the boys go out to a bar to celebrate. They are walking away with four grand each. While at the bar, Sick Boy and Begbie each get up and Renton and spud are left at the table with the bag full of money. Renton mentions the idea of the two of them running away with it to spud, only spud thinks its all a joke.
If Renton is tempted in that moment, he gets even more tempted just a moment later when Begbie gets into a fight with a man at the bar and smashes some glasses over the man’s face. The fight gets so out of control that spuds goes to stop it and gets slashed in the hand by Begbie’s knife. Renton knows better than to get involved. And he can clearly see that Begbie is exactly the same as he ever was, and that if he doesn’t get out soon, then staying around these guys is going to be his downfall.
The boys go back to their apartment and go to sleep and the next morning, Renton wakes up ready to take the bag. He knows that taking this bag will be the thing that can really get him out. Once he takes it, he can never go back and be friends with these guys again. At that point, if he ever runs into them again (especially Begbie), they will kill him. Renton sees this not as a threat, but as an opportunity. He gets out of bed, grabs the bag, and walk to the door.
Renton is about to leave when he sees spud, lying there, and eyes wide opened. He gives spud one last opportunity to join him and run off with him. Only spud doesn’t want it. He doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life out on the run, looking over his shoulder, never feeling safe. And so Renton turns and leaves.
We get a few shots of Renton walking off, carrying the bag, and smiling. His voice over plays over everything explaining how he doesn’t feel bad about ripping his friends off at all. He knows that they would have done the exact same thing to him if they only thought of it first. Only spud does he feel bad for, and Renton leaves spud some money in that locker. We see Begbie go nuts when he wakes up and sees what happened, and Begbie starts destroying the room. That’s when the police are called and come and takes him away. The movie ends on a shot of spud opening the locker and getting the money that Renton left for him.
It’s a hell of a movie about character change. I used to think that the first half of the movie had no plot and that the real plot only began towards the end of the film, with the drug deal and money stealing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. For one thing, that would exclude Tommy from the entire story of the film. The plot really begins with Renton stealing Tommy’s tape, which happens right at the very start of the film. From there we follow not only Tommy’s downward spiral, but also that of each of the characters. It is only in the final two acts that Renton tries to escape his friends and his life in Scotland and realizes that it will not be as easy as he thought. Trainspotting is a very cool movie, loaded up with amazing music, visuals, and humor. That first time I saw this movie I was unprepared for it, and I hated it. There was too much cursing and the thick accents were too difficult for me to understand. Luckily, this is a movie that gets better the more times you see it. As you start understanding the dialogue more, the humor really comes out. And once you understand it, you realize that this is an excellent film.