Film Review: Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy (2011)

“The only mediator between God and man is ecstasy.”

Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy continues its titular author’s fascination with the drug culture, set at the bottom of the crime world, the “mean streets” of Edinburgh, after the Danny Boyle’s classic Trainspotting. Adapted (from the short story The Undefeated) and directed by Rob Heydon in his feature debut, it gives an exciting, at times grueling and somewhat more optimistic view of the world then previous films in the subgenre.

The story follows the misadventures of drug smuggler Lloyd (Adam Sinclair) and his two friends Woodsy (Billy Boyd) and Ally (Keram Malicki-Sánchez) as they navigate the Scottish underground ran by Solo (Carlo Rota), who Lloyd owes a substantial amount of money. One night he meets Heather (Kristin Kreuk), a Canadian ex-pat who’s separated from her husband, and the two instantly fall for each other. The problem is that Lloyd lives for the club scene, or more to the point, the club scene filled with ecstasy. For him, it is a way of life, a state of mind, but as their relationship intensifies she wants more from him and blasts his concept of life as fake. The film follows centrally their romance and Lloyd descent to rock bottom.

Although we’ve seen the story of the film before, star crossed lovers with a drug problem and a young group of man try to make it in the crime world, in such films as the aforementioned Trainspotting, Requiem For A Dream and the criminally under rated Jesus’ Son, Heydon handles it well and tells it from the heart. He employs a digital video style that gives the film an immediacy and effectively transports the viewer into the world of the characters. Heydon utilizes familiar techniques like time lapse and varying film speeds to give the film a drug induced haze. Although it’s clearly made on a low budget, he seems to be keenly aware of his limitations, keeping the scope of the film mostly intimate with the characters, and works well within them.

The film is well acted and features what will probably be a break out roll for Sinclair. As Lloyd, he exerts a charisma despite his realistic, everyman portrayal. That he doesn’t look like a conventional movie star works for him. Kristin Kreuk, from TV’s Smallville, offers good support with a warm performance.  Billy Boyd is great as an immensely quotable lunatic and Carlo Rota essentially reprises his over the top gangster from The Boondock Saints, but does it quite well.

Featuring a great performance from Sinclair, Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy is effectively made, engaging and refreshing for ending on a positive note in a drug movie.

Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy will be theatrically released in Australia on 26 April through Potential Films.

3.5 blergs

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