Live and Let Die
Live and Let Die
Reviews of the latest films.
July 23 1996 3:30 AM

Live and Let Die

No, Trainspotting doesn't glamorize the junkie life. It just makes it sound reasonable.


Directed by Danny Boyle


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The title: "Trainspotting" is a solitary pastime followed by British males of all ages. It involves jotting down the numbers of all the railway engines you see, and seeing as many as possible. In British minds, it's associated with the image of an anorak-wrapped nerd all alone in the rain, caught up in the only excitement he has found in life. In the novel, Mark and a friend enter an abandoned railway station in the Edinburgh suburb of Leith. An old drunk asks them if they are trainspotting, and cackles at his own wit. I guess we are meant to believe that they about as far from trainspotting as anyone can get, although Irvine Welsh is quoted in TheNew Yorker as saying he thinks trainspotting is also a form of addiction. The title is another of the movie's risks, and a good indication of its style, for it does not include this episode, and makes no reference to trainspotting at all. The title means: This is the film of an already famous novel. And also: what's in a name?

Michael Wood is the author of The Magician's Doubts: Nabokov and the Risks of Fiction and a professor of English at Princeton.