Movie Reviews

‘Ecstasy’: A weak pill

By Kevin HoMovies - 25 June 2013 12:16 PM | Updated 11:35 AM

‘Ecstasy’: A weak pill

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Here’s one thing you need to know about this film. It’s an adaptation of a short story titled ‘The Undefeated’ written by Scottish author Irvine Welsh, whose most notable adapted screenplay is the critically acclaimed and highly controversial ‘Trainspotting’ in 1996.

‘Trainspotting’ easily became a cult classic with its daring premise of drug addicts coping in a drug-rampant society, and is doted as one of Britain’s greatest films of all time.

‘Ecstasy’ is not a sequel, nor is it directed by ‘Trainspotting’ director Danny Boyle. Nonetheless, it tries very hard to be like its indirect predecessor.

The script for 'Ecstasy' is fairly witty and features clever characters

Like most of Welsh’s literary works, ‘Ecstasy’ is about drugs, but the similarities don’t end there. Many aspects of the film spark the same excitement as ‘Trainspotting’ did, and they might fascinate new viewers and gain nods of approval from more familiar ones.

For one, the settings are characteristically similar, featuring a charming yet grimy Scotland, where the Scottish accents are so thick a second viewing would be necessary if watched without subtitles. Not unless you’re a slang-savvy resident of Scotland, that is.

True to its theme and title, the film also gives the viewer the impression that he or she is on the magic pill. This is flawlessly executed with fancy camera tricks, ranging from still-framed fast-forwarding to slow-exposure filming that make the lights appear blurred and dreamy.

Like ‘Trainspotting’, ‘Ecstasy’ boasts an impressively sensual soundtrack that reflects the bustling music scene of the Scottish underground, featuring elements from acid house, techno, trance and British post-punk.


Yet, while ‘Ecstasy’ does a brilliant job replicating the cinematographic elements in 'Trainspotting', its plot is not nearly as novel or intelligent.

For all the film’s overwhelming visual and audial antics, it is really just a love story.

And it is problematic because of how out-of-place and inconsistent it is, and how it struggles within the plot.

Lloyd Buist will do anything for ecstasy

Adam Sinclair plays Lloyd Buist, a seasoned punter (of the promiscuous sort) whose life revolves around drugs, girls, and loud club music. Sinclair, who’s Scottish himself, does quite a convincing job of appearing high in every scene.

Well, every scene until his main love interest Heather Thompson (Kristin Kreuk) enters the story. And as quickly as the "drugging" effects of the film hits you, Sinclair’s character does a complete 180-degree turn. And this isn’t executed in a refreshing sense of enlightenment, it is a neck-wringing twist that makes you wonder if you’re still watching the same show.

The primary plot does try hard to remain prominent, but it becomes difficult for it to be taken seriously when Sinclair’s dialogue gets confusingly transformed from raucously street-smart wisecracks to cheesy lines about love that would make even the hairs of Cupid stand.

It is, however, worth pointing out that Kreuk slips into her role naturally. After all, romantic developments are nothing new for this doe-eyed sweetheart given her various roles in ‘Smallville’ and ‘Edgemont’.

But her character just seems very much like an intrusion.  

‘Ecstasy’ begins with lots of high and flighty hope, even without the weight of ‘Trainspotting’ on its shoulders. Then, like the effects of a drug, it just ends up being nothing more than a disappointment.

Sinclar’s character utters these words just before the title shows up: “This is just another form of entertainment”. Unfortunately, he sums up the show just right. 

'Ecstacy' opens in cinemas 27 June 2013