Trainspotting Movie Poster Image




Graphic look into heroin addiction. Not for kids.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Most characters are thieving junkies.


Fistfights and fights with blunt instruments and broken glass, which often have no motivation and can get quite bloody.


Strong sexual content, including a partial rape scene.


Very strong.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The film is based on heroin use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Trainspotting is, at its core, the story of a group of friends held together largely by their shared addiction to heroin. Much time is spent simply on presenting sounds and images meant to simulate either the euphoria of heroin highs or the wretchedness of heroin withdrawal. Violence is also present in their behavior of the friends, including fistfights and fights with blunt instruments and broken glass, which often have no motivation and can get quite bloody. The dialogue is almost wall-to-wall obscenities, although the Scottish tongue is often hard for Americans to understand. A baby dies due to the neglect of his heroin-addicted mother. Sex is discussed and displayed openly.

What's the story?

Tracking the exploits of a group of friends in Edinburgh, Scotland, TRAINSPOTTING is narrated by main character Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor). The film covers the roller coaster-like cycles of heroin addicts, alternately cleaning out and retracting back into the comfort of their addiction. In the final third, the focus shifts to the interpersonal politics amongst Renton and his friends as they attempt to earn a sizeable amount of money through a risky heroin deal, showing how even when the heroin isn't running Renton's life through addiction, his friends function as a negative drain on him.

Is it any good?


For a unique, consummately entertaining, and yet utterly harrowing look into the life of heroin addicts, this movie offers open-minded viewers an unforgettable experience. However, Trainspotting is wholly inappropriate for kids.

McGregor's performance, along with Robert Carlyle's as Renton's psychotically violent friend Begbie, made big enough impressions to bring both actors many other choice roles in the wake of this movie's success. It also elevated director Danny Boyle's profile, making it possible for him to undertake some bigger-budget films in subsequent years.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what gives Trainspotting its cult film status.

  • Do you think it sensationalizes drug addiction or gives an accurate picture? How well does the film balance the euphoric visions of heroin highs with the low moments of addicts being driven to steal, hurt others, etc.?

  • The narrator seems to present himself as in control of his actions, but is he really? Are his final actions towards his friends warranted? Do we feel that he has truly changed his ways at the close of the film?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1995
DVD/Streaming release date:June 1, 2004
Cast:Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller
Director:Danny Boyle
Studio:Buena Vista
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:graphic heroin use and resulting depravity, strong language, sex, nudity and some violence

This review of Trainspotting was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 17 years old Written byRedser93 January 6, 2011

Trainspotting A Harsh Reality Of What Life Can Become!

I believe that Trainspotting is an absolutely amazing film that show's the true to life consequences of part taking in hard drug abuse. Yes the film is based on heroin user's but the film portrays Renton's struggle to break away from the addiction and show's us how hard it is, how he loses his family, how he has to betray his friends all in the goal of becoming clean. Showing this film teenagers is essential as they would be to afraid to even part take in drugs as it shows how much it can corrupt your life. This will torture teenagers that think drugs are cool or a joke as this is a film from the eye's of a junkie not an examination of a junkie
Teen, 16 years old Written bysupertay April 9, 2008

Hellza Good

I throughly enjoyed this movie the first time I watched it; I perceived it as a black comedy myself. Although it was about drug use, I think it is okay for kids my age to watch because it puts drug use into perspective, but not in a drill-into-your-head way. Also it is a cult favorite, so many references might be made to it in other productions, and I believe that it is important to understand them.
Parent of a 14 and 14 year old Written byjujubee33 June 2, 2009

Herion Turn-Off

I think it gives teenagers great insight into how bad herion withdrawl is, and is in fact relaying the message that herion is bad. I think it would be good for teenagers to see this movie.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?