Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)

Rating: **1/2 (out of ****)

First of all, let's see if I can't maybe (grunt) turn down the (urgh) Hype-o-meter just (umph) a tad. There, that's better. Contrary to what you may have heard, Trainspotting, the new film from the producer/writer/director trio who made the equally overrated Shallow Grave last year, isn't especially exciting or revelatory; the amount of sober journalism devoted to it in recent weeks ("Does it or doesn't it glorify heroin?" seems to be the stupid question on everyone's lips) amuses me no end, because the film is about as profound and incisive as The Birdcage. It's an energetic, well-acted, grandstanding piece of fluff, which coasts pleasantly for long stretches on an enjoyable streak of black humor and a terrific soundtrack (though it's far too dependent on the latter for both its energy and what little emotion it manages to provoke). Modest virtues, these, but worthy ones; unfortunately, they're largely undone by Danny Boyle's relentlessly "clever" direction, which apparently thrills plenty of other people but leaves me utterly cold. Trainspotting is certainly flashy, but it's flashy in an overbearing, irritating way that isn't particularly expressive; Boyle seems obsessed with making every shot "interesting," without considering whether an oblique angle or rat's-eye view has any meaning in the context of the scene. ("Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we turned the camera sideways for this shot of Renton walking down the street?!" No, not really.) This is the "hey, look at me!" school of filmmaking; such films can be exhilirating when made with intelligence and skill (cf. Blood Simple), but are more often just annoying exercises in empty style. Trainspotting is cranked up to eleven, and is consequently getting plenty of attention, but it ain't signifyin' much, and would have been more entertaining at half the volume. What I'm trying to say here is: Feedback.