Stumbling upon Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy on Netflix is much like coming across an underworld experienced encased in Class A drugs and the frequent pounding soundtrack of heavy dance music.
From the first scene you find yourself immersed in the lives of drug addicts. The use of ecstasy and speed is glorified from the first scene and the viewer is thrown into the nightlife (and indeed the day life) of Llyod (Adam Sinclair), Woodsy (Billy Boyd), and Ally (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), as they are daily thrown into a trance of alcohol, sex, violence as a result of the various artificial highs of life that are consumed.
Although Irvine Welsh is also the author of Trainspotting, his more recent adaptation of his movie Ecstasy is almost a ‘pg 15’ version of Trainspotting. Less violence, less extreme use of drugs and overall there is less brashness and idea of cynicism throughout the movie. It is not as hard hitting, but it is just as effective.
The characters in Ecstasy may be low lifers, the underworld of Scotland, but their addiction to drugs is not as extreme and their lives are a lot more relatable to anybody who has been exposed to the nightlife of Britain and Ireland and indeed most countries in Europe. Like Trainspotting, Ecstasy was filmed in Scotland and depicts Scottish nightlife and the use of narrative dialogue is brilliantly displayed in both films.
We delve into the world of protagonist Lloyd and his addiction to drugs. We experience their effective trance-like, euphoria – and witness Lloyd’s gradual demise, from being in debt to drug dealers such as Solo (Carlo Rota), to his new relationship with the newly divorced American, Heather Thompson (Kristin Kreuk), as drugs and his constant need for a high get in the way of their relationship. As Lloyd deals with the realities of his life, Woodsy is trying to separate the real world and the spiritual world.
Not only does this movie show the lives of drug addicts and their demise, it never once tries to lecture the viewer on the ‘dangers of drugs’. In fact, it merely outlines the advantages and disadvantages of these artificial highs. The advantages being how they transcended normal human consciousness week in week out and the disadvantages are displayed in their conflicts, in Lloyds final come down and in Woodsy’s mental and spiritual break.
Overall, this is a great watch if you are ready to see what these characters go through to feel the adrenaline rushing though their blood and the endorphins racing through their brains. Resorting to smuggling by inserting various objects into obscure parts of their bodies to throwing drug encased dance parties in their local church to make money. Every drug taken in the movie leads to their inevitable downfall of their glorified lives.
Ecstacy is now streaming on Netflix.You can sign up for a free month's trial on Netflix here (after that, it only costs €6.99 a month to stream TV programmes and films anytime, anywhere).