"Ultimately Heydon's film struggles to shake off its patent Trainspotting tag..."
Based on the eponymous novel by Irvine Welsh, Ecstasy is just the Scottish author's second novel to be adapted to the big-screen, the first being Trainspotting. Written by the same author, set in Edinburgh and centred around the intake of class A drugs, it's extremely difficult not to compare the two with one another, and for first-time filmmaker Rob Heydon, it's not ideal to have your debut production compared to what is arguably the greatest British film of the past 20 years.
We follow Lloyd (Adam Sinclair), 28 years old but still living the high life, out every other night with his friends Woodsy (Billy Boyd) and Ally (Keram Malicki-Sanchez) taking ecstasy amidst a host of other drugs, constantly seeking a better time. Yet as a result of his insouciant lifestyle, Lloyd finds himself owing thousands of pounds to menacing drug dealer Solo (Carlo Rota).
Lloyd soon finds himself reliant on taking drugs, unable to enjoy himself when not high, disregarding the bleakness and normality of real life. Yet when he meets the beautiful Canadian Heather (Kristin Kreuk) he realises that he must try and live without the narcotics and form a proper relationship with another human being.
Unlike Trainspotting, Lloyd's journey seems somewhat insignificant to that of Renton's, depicted masterfully by Ewan McGregor. Renton appeared to go on an incredible journey to hell and back, whereas this feels more like a brisk walk to the shop - as nothing is truly gained. It does feel unfair comparing Ecstasy to Trainspotting, but Heydon doesn't help himself, clearly taking pointers from Danny Boyle's production. There is an evident attempt at combining quirkiness with gritty realism, and we even have a similar thought-provoking and supposedly stimulating narration from Lloyd over the top - just like Renton's.
But the one stand-out difference between the films is the portrayal of drugs. Not that this film glamorises drugs in any way, but it doesn't act as a deterrent like Trainspotting does. For a group of friends highly addicted to narcotics, there are of course a series of negative implications that come as a result, and I don't feel that Heydon has managed to present that with any degree of significance. However he does appear to capture the essence of the drug-fuelled club nights, aptly presenting the rapture of such night's, from the free-spirited atmosphere to human interactions.
Such scenes are implemented too often though, as Heydon definitely fills a few gaps with random dancing scenes. Such sequences do however provide an effective contrast to the scenes between Lloyd and his ill father (Stephen McHattie), really setting a divide between euphoria to reality. The scenes between Lloyd and his father are poignant and touching, however the romantic aspects to the film and the scenes between Lloyd and Heather are incredibly corny and overly sentimental.
As a lone production Ecstasy has some endearing features to it - the first half an hour is enjoyable and Sinclair has a certain charm about him which suits the nature of the role and proves an essential component in the enjoyment of this film. Yet ultimately Heydon's film struggles to shake off its patent Trainspotting tag, and despite what is a decent effort by the Canadian director, this doesn't stand up to it all.