Mark 'Rent Boy' Renton is a young Scot that suffers from heroin addiction and is on a downward spiral of drugs and crime. He repeatedly wants to quit and tries to do so, but always seems to succumb to just one more hit in order to cope with his life. With his friends, he is trapped in a seedy urban underworld in spite of the efforts of his family to get him clean. However, Mark has a secret desire to make more of his life, and finds himself facing a choice; staying with his friends in his familiar environment or starting his life over.
‘Trainspotting’ is a very controversial film, which touches upon quite a bit of themes, though drug abuse is certainly the main issue dealt with; Mark and his friends are all addicted to heroin and the film explores the causes of drug abuse and its dangerous aftermath – which in this particular case is death; Mark’s friend, Tommy, dies from an overdose and even a little baby girl dies, presumably from living in the intoxicating atmosphere of 4 drug addicts’ flat. Beyond drug abuse, another concurrent theme in the film is redemption – and how unattainable it is; we follow Mark making his way out of drugs, on his journey to redeem himself. He struggles to break out of the vicious circle he is stuck in but lastly succeeds, finds redemption and forgives himself. ‘Trainspotting’ deals with national identity as well, in this case the lack of a true Scottish identity; Mark sees Scotland as nation ‘colonized by wankers’ and feels as though the stereotypical Scottish identity (with connotations of valour and honour) is false heritage. He escapes from Scotland hence his Scottish identity when he moves to London and isolates himself, though he can’t abandon his ‘Scottishness’ completely.