NXNE 2012 – Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy Review (Kirk Haviland)

NXNE 2012

Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy (2011)

Starring Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk, Billy Boyd, Carlo Rota, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Stephen McHattie and Dean McDermott

Written by Rob Heydon, Matt Maclennan, Paul McCafferty, Ben Tucker and Irvine Welsh (Based on Irvine Welsh`s novel)

Directed by Rob Heydon

Irvine Welsh became counter-culture hero when the movie based on his seminal novel Trainspotting was released back in 1996. With its no-nonsense, gritty, dirty and frighteningly realistic portrayal of a group of hooligan drug addicts in Scotland, Trainspotting became a critical and financial smash and launched the careers of Ewan Mcgregor and Robert Carlyle. Back with a new movie based on another of his best-selling novels and set in the underground rave scene of Scotland, the question is does director Heydon manage to craft a film near the brilliance of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting? Or do we get a film that manages to miss the mark of the book completely?

Lloyd (Sinclair) is a small time hustler who is in debt to a local gangster named Solo (Rota) and as such has been working as a drug mule transporting ‘E’ from Amsterdam back to Scotland. On his last trip he is given a present in the form of an extra canister of E for him to take back. Lloyd enlists the help of friends Woodsy (Boyd) and Ally (Malicki-Sanchez) to organize and distribute the E at a party in the basement of a local church. Lloyd hopes that he can hopefully make enough money to pay off Solo and stop taking all the risk that is entailed with being a mule. Or course the night goes completely wrong as Woodsy takes way too much E and ends up off the deep end, Solo finds out about the party and ups Lloyd’s debt for not telling him and cutting him in on the profits (which end up being nothing), and Ally is pretty much non-existent. But one thing goes completely right, as Lloyd, in an ecstasy driven haze, meets Heather (Kreuk) who is also under the influence. After helping Heather escape the police raid that ends the party they spend the whole night wandering the streets of Scotland until the sun is firmly up in the sky. Now Lloyd has even more reason to get out of the trade but with his debt mounting, his father (McHattie) at home content to drink himself to the grave after his wife’s passing and the looming secret that Heather tells him, how will he be able to cope?

Ecstasy relies almost solely on its lead performance (a similar structure to Trainspotting), as Sinclair’s Lloyd is also our narrator. Fortunately for us Sinclair delivers a really engaging performance here. His Lloyd is a loveable scoundrel with a twinkle in his eyes that always belies his mischievous side. The rest of the cast are purely for supporting roles, though they do a good job on the whole. The standout in the rest of the cast is Rota, who you may recognize as Chloe O’Brien’s husband Miles from the TV show 24, as Solo. Rota imbues Solo with an ever-present impending sense of doom as he can fly of the handle with a second’s notice. Now the film is not without its issues, some of the sequences start to become redundant and the film drags a bit through the second act, but it works on the whole despite this with strong first and third acts.

In the debate over which film is better Trainspotting is the clear winner. But we aren’t here for that and basing Irvine Walsh’s Ecstasy purely on its own merits I must give it a recommend, if for Sinclair and Rota’s performances alone.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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