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Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy

Rob Heydon

Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy
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Irvine Welsh, beyond his use of language, is known for stories that delve into the depths of all things underground and drug-related. And though initially perceived not to be adaptable, 1996's Trainspotting (from director Danny Boyle) proved Welsh's stories could work successfully on the big screen, taking advantage of the '90s drug culture ethos, where raves encouraged the insecure and socially conscious to pop sordid pharmaceuticals and dance all night.

Writer/director Rob Heydon adapted Irvine Welsh's "The Undefeated," part of the 1996 Welsh novella, bringing Ecstasy to the masses nearly two decades too late, proving that much like glow sticks and tongue rings, this specific form of drug culture is now dated and well past its prime.

Lloyd Buist (Adam Sinclair) assumes the role of a Scottish club kid/drug smuggler that has recently split from girlfriend Hazel (Olivia Andrup) to start anew with a fresh-faced Canadian girl, Heather (Kristin Kreuk). Lloyd finds himself in trouble with unpredictable club owner Soho (Carlo Rota) as his drug debts climb, putting a strain on his new relationship, as well as his buddies, Woodsy (Billy Boyd) and Ally (Keram Malicki-Sanchez).

The film plays out with Lloyd trying to turn the tables on Soho, featuring intermittent drug trysts, parties and debauchery along the way, all while he tries to conquer true love and live happily ever after with Heather.

While Boyle's Trainspotting cleverly showcased the amorality of drug-use and allowed viewers to draw their own conclusions, Heydon's Ecstasy can't keep its themes straight. The film's trajectory becomes confusing, as it speaks to the liberating effects of drugs and music while flip-flopping with the insistence that real life can only begin once you've broken free from drugs. Compounding the confusion is the poor writing that does little to add life to the characters, with most of them being utterly forgettable.

While Heydon is seemingly trying to keep his film in the same realm as Trainspotting stylistically, unable to define his own style or motivation, his bland reiteration of the visual effects, character captions, slow motion dancing and sped-up city shots do little other than remind the audience of superior works made nearly two decades ago. It's a shame Irvine Welsh's tale was given this treatment.
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