Opening 16 Aug 2012
The film opens in a disco where people are obviously high on something and continues along the same line, with characters in various “bombed-out” stages of unconsciousness. One is Lloyd (Adam Sinclair), who lives in Edinburgh and hangs out with two friends, Woodsy (Billy Boyd) and Ally. He lives at home with his dad, a nice man who drinks too much and mourns his dead wife. Besides standing by his dad, Lloyd has few responsibilities and no real job besides drug runner for Solo (Carlo Rota). Life becomes complicated when his debt to Solo is more than he can pay. In order to earn extra money he hosts a rave disco party in a Catholic Church basement and says, “The only medium between God and man is ecstasy.” Solo sees this as competition with his disco, and the police raid the church. Ecstasy is the party drug that he stuffs into condoms and then swallows in order to pass through customs in the airport. Ecstasy is also the love he feels for Heather. Suddenly, life with Heather offers something steadfast, a future, but first he must clear his debt with Solo.
The plot is based on the book of the same name by Irvine Welsh (original title: Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy). Director Rob Heydon had made 100 music and advertising videos/films, as well as a successful documentary Go Further in 2003, but this is his first, full-length, feature film. His connections with the music world show up on the good soundtrack which features 51 songs from popular groups such as Craig, Primal Scream, Coldplay and Animated Gardens (founded by Keram Malicki-Sanchez who also plays Ally). If you don’t know these musicians, ask some teenagers. Canadian Kristen Kreuk who plays Heather is very beautiful on screen and should have a bright future. I especially enjoyed seeing Edinburgh, although it was also filmed in Amsterdam and Canada. The Scottish accent adds to the flavor, but I’ll admit that I often referred to the German subtitles, since Scottish English is as foreign to me as German. Now I know the definition of “Hi-ya lassies” and I’m definitely not one of those.
Director Heydon said that he wanted to present the film as a docudrama, as realistic as possible, using original text, hand-held camera up close, etc. I thought his use of fast-forward and then slow motion was especially effective. This will be especially interesting for the many Irvine Welsh fans who loved Trainspotting, his book which was also filmed. Otherwise, it is a typical love-overcomes-obstacles story. (Becky Tan)