Graphic look into heroin addiction. Not for kids.
  • Review Date: October 13, 2005
  • 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 this movie 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?


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 Trainspotting's success. It also elevated director Danny Boyle's profile, making it possible for him to undertake some bigger-budget films in subsequent years.

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

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what gives this movie 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? Is his final betrayal of 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 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

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 14 and 14 year old Written byjujubee33 June 2, 2009
age 14+

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.
Teen, 16 years old Written bysupertay April 9, 2008
age 0+

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.
Teen, 17 years old Written byRedser93 January 6, 2011
age 16+

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


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