Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy

| May 28, 2013

From Irvine Welsh, the novelist behind Trainspotting comes another mind-bending drug drama in Ecstasy.  This film is centered on Lloyd Buist (Adam Sinclair), a drug smuggler working for an Irish mobster, Solo (Carlo Rota; Fox’s 24).  Lloyd and his friend Woodsy (Billy Boyd; The Lord of the Rings), and his girlfriend Heather (Kristen Kreuk; Smallville) are all living a fairly good life; throwing parties, getting high, and feeling mostly invincible.  That is until the drugs begin to drive the characters apart.  But thankfully (much like Trainspotting) Ecstasy isn’t about the drug it’s named after so much as these characters who happen to use the drug.  Each of the characters feel real and that makes this film about drug use and youth culture much more interesting to watch than 99% of other films that attempt to take on similar subject matter.

I’ve never seen Adam Sinclair in anything else, but he has a great charisma that makes it quite enjoyable to watch him carry an entire film.  His chemistry with Kristen Kreuk is spot on as the two find a perfect balance between intimacy and sexuality.  The other characters cycle through and we can go long periods of time without seeing them, but none of the characters feel incomplete.  Everyone gets exactly the amount of screen time they need to push this story forward and make this film work.

My one big criticism of the film is that even at 100 minutes, it could be tightened up a bit.  Not to say the film ever feels too slow or boring, but even though the repetitive nature of these characters’ lives works nicely as a metaphor for each of them being stuck in a loop, I wouldn’t have minded having some of the more repetitive beats replaced by anything that could push the story in a new and interesting direction.

I do like that this film is a lot less intense than Trainspotting.  You get the impression that while heroin is a rough, destructive drug, ecstasy – while still very dangerous – is more tame and more about heightened emotions and sensations.  It allows for this film to almost function as a traditional romance, with the drug inspiring love and love-like feelings, as well as clichéd moments of spontaneous poetry which would be terrible in a Nicholas Sparks movie, but works here because director Rob Heydon is so clearly establishing how this drug affects its users.

No special features.  Available now on DVD from Cinedigm.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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