Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy Review

Film Still
  • Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy film still


A spectacularly misconceived and fundamentally unnecessary adaptation of the Scottish author’s 1996 short story 'The Undefeated'.

Fusing the production values of Hollyoaks with the clarity, insight and intellectual rigour of Hollyoaks, Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy is a super low-budget, spectacularly misconceived and fundamentally unnecessary adaptation of the Scottish author’s 1996 short story 'The Undefeated' which will have you scampering for your DVD of Trainspotting to expunge all memories of it.

The low-impact Adam Sinclair stars as the distinctly average Lloyd, a young Scottish man enjoying a life of drugs and parties, though troubled by his alcoholic father and the attentions of the local drug lord for whom he does a bit of smuggling. He soon meets Canadian Heather (Smallville's Kristin Kreuk, oddly cast yet easily the best thing in the film), a frustrated office worker in an unhappy relationship, and must decide whether to curtail his unhealthy lifestyle in pursuit of love.

For a film supposedly concerned with the highs and lows of a drug subculture, it’s unforgivably flat both visually and tonally, as well as being utterly devoid of the vibrant sense of time and place that defined Danny Boyle’s 1995 masterpiece. It’s impossible to tell in which era this film’s supposed to be set: The club scenes look like stock footage, and a cast largely made up of Canadian actors doing terrible Scottish accents only furthers the pervasive sense of remoteness.

In adapting the text, writers Rob Heydon and Mark Tucker have coshed Welsh’s scabrous, often-hilarious prose into a trite meringue of witless, soft-edged mundanity, earnestly treating the characters’ each and every pseudo-profound rambling as a major philosophical breakthrough, with none of the intended irony or self-awareness that the author clearly intended. The clunkingly obvious narrative and laughable coterie of menace-free bad guys merely compound the raft of problems on show.

Other than Kreuk’s sweet performance, there are depressingly few pleasures to be gained along the way. Indeed, when the most rewarding of these is a cameo from Whose Line is it Anyway?’s goofy bald comic Colin Mochrie as a priest, you know you’re in trouble.

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