Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Heroin may be a downer, but Trainspotting definitely takes you up…a series of roaring, provocative, outrageous highs. [26 July 1996, Friday, p.C]
  2. Reviewed by: Barry Walters
    Extraordinary, entertaining cinema.
  3. It would be hard to imagine a movie about drugs, depravity, and all-around bad behavior more electrifying than Trainspotting.
  4. 100
    The most original, daring, thrilling movie to be released this year, Trainspotting is one of those occasional, astonishing triumphs of risk and imagination that gets you excited about what smart people, pushing themselves and the medium, can accomplish in the movies.
  5. Reviewed by: Shannon Gee
    Keeps you engaged in this story of a memorable anti-hero for our times.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael Wood
    A desolate, fast, funny, scary film, and it takes more risks than any recent film.
  7. Exuberant and pitiless, profane yet eloquent, flush with the ability to create laughter out of unspeakable situations, Trainspotting is a drop-dead look at a dead-end lifestyle that has all the strength of its considerable contradictions.
  8. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The film is about joy--in conniving and surviving, in connecting with audiences, in its own fizzy, jizzy style.
  9. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Scabrous, brutal and hip, Trainspotting is a "Clockwork Orange" for the '90s.
  10. Reviewed by: Jason Puskar
    Irresistibly bleak appeal.
  11. The on-target performances, along with the unceasing barrage of popular music and daring narrative gambles, combine to make Trainspotting one of the grand movie rushes of 1996.
  12. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    A movie that rudely flings feces at the breakfast table isn't for everyone.
  13. 88
    There's nothing new or unique about the story, but it is presented in a manner that reinforces its immediacy and impact.
  14. A little like speeding through the digestive tract of some voracious beast. There's bite, acid, digestive churning and an expulsive conclusion. If the metaphor seems unsavoury, well, wait until you see the film.
  15. 87
    It's a disturbing film in the best sense.
  16. Reviewed by: Arnold Wayne Jones
    Creates a sense of understanding that crystallizes the essence of the drug subculture with startling clarity.
  17. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Ewan McGregor in a raw, funny, star-making performance.
  18. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    A surprisingly vital film.
  19. The stylish irreverence of Trainspotting mimics that drug high and delivers its own potent kick.
  20. Reviewed by: John Leland
    Artfully ambivalent, Danny Boyle's film, twists with a junkie's logic. It does not preach; it wallows in the pain and, more daringly, in the pleasure.
  21. 75
    It uses a colorful vocabulary, it contains a lot of energy, it elevates its miserable heroes to the status of icons (in their own eyes, that is).
  22. Darkly comic tone of heroin-addiction film sets it apart
  23. 75
    Isn't a noble story, or even a cautionary one: It just feels pretty painfully real.
  24. Reviewed by: Frank Lovece
    Captures the way drug addiction gives structure and purpose to aimless lives, and evokes the breathtaking rapture of a fix. All this and a happy ending, too.
  25. The story, such as it is, follows Renton's inconsistent attempts to kick his habit.
  26. A new voyeurism has arisen in the last two decades or so, and Trainspotting caters to it--an addiction to addiction-watching. [August 19, 1996]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 157 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 40
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 40
  3. Negative: 3 out of 40
  1. Aug 14, 2010
    This is a great movie. You will be shocked, and you won't want to turn away. Possibly one of the only English movies ever that might need subtitles. Superb beginning and ending. Full Review »
  2. May 28, 2012
    With the extraordinarily talented Danny Boyle at the helm, unflinchingly honest social commentary, a great cast and a fantastically funny script by regular Boyle collaborator John Hodge, Trainspotting, adapted from Irvine Welsh's iconic Scottish novel is a true masterpiece of British filmmaking. Following the turbulent and troubled lives of a group of young Scottish heroin addicts, the film takes a sympathetic view of the problem of drug addiction - rather than chastising them for the situation they find themselves in, it is sympathetic to the addicts' struggle and the vicious circle that traps them and slowly destroys their lives. It's among the most poignant and dramatically effective films discussing drug addiction, and Boyle is extremely adept at getting under the skin of his characters and showing what really makes them tick. The characters are an entertaining group of misfits, of particular note is central protagonist and narrator Renton (Ewan McGregor), a young man with aspirations of stability, and of happiness in his life, but who is utterly unable to survive without "one more hit", the violent and psychotic Begbie (Robert Carlyle), who refuses to take heroin but makes up for not doing drugs by "doing people" instead, and the childlike Spud (Ewan Bremner), the innocent fool of the group, and the most vulnerable to peer pressure. The cast make the very most of John Hodge's script, which channels the spirit of Irvine Welsh in a glorious explosion of heavily Scottish-accented sweary magnificence. As with many of Boyle's films, Trainspotting is a balancing act of light and shade. You'll have tears of mirth rolling down your cheeks one moment, when Renton is forced to make an emergency visit to "the worst toilet in Scotland", and you'll be devastated at the utterly tragic loss experienced by the characters a few scenes later. The film really does take you on an emotional rollercoaster - its a journey of highs and lows, and you can really feel for everything, both good and bad, that the characters go through. The film's nightmarish, appropriately trippy visuals (particularly in Renton's "cold turkey" montage), a memorable rock and dance-tinged soundtrack and Boyle's undeniable ability to maintaining the story's momentum and manic energy seals Trainspotting's position as a striking, emotional and affecting viewing experience. It's far more than a film about drug addiction - Trainspotting is about life, death and finding your place in the world. It's also, quite unexpectedly, one of the all-time great feelgood movies, and if you don't take anything else from the film, then take its unabashedly positive moral to heart, and "choose life". Full Review »
  3. Aug 10, 2014
    Pretty cool and stylish movie with some awkwardly stupid moments. It's all about addiction. Sometimes the movie is disgusting and disturbing, sometimes it is funny. The cast and filming are really nice. Full Review »