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Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy revisited with cast and director

AFF Day 4


Chatting with filmmakers after you’ve seen (and reviewed) their movies is always a curious experience, in that your perspective is always changed in at least some small way. If you read the print edition of this week’s Coast, you know how I felt about Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy, the Rob Heydon adaptation of the Trainspotting author’s 1993 book. Speaking Sunday morning with Heydon and stars Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk and Billy Boyd didn’t cause me to do a 180-degree reversal, but at least I got a better idea of what they were after.

Ecstasy is a love story set against the backdrop of E-fuelled club culture, a movie that Sinclair described as a journey “from the love of ecstasy to the ecstasy of love.” I had questioned the relevance of chronicling the rave/club scene almost 20 years after Welsh’s book and a decade and a half later than rave’s mainstream apex. But as the affable Boyd pointed out, hindsight was arguably a better perspective from which to gauge a cultural movement.

“Once you’ve lived through something, as a writer or a filmmaker you’re better able to comment on it, which I think is what Rob’s doing,” said Boyd.

Heydon, a Canadian who’s been trying to make the movie for many years, said he was attracted to the material in part because it reminded him of his own glorious clubbing exploits. Ditto Sinclair. But both argued that the story behind rave-y stuff was universal, and far more important to them.

“It’s the people (Sinclair’s character Lloyd) mixes with, the relationships he has with his family---so much of it was my life on paper,” Sinclair said. “Irvine Welsh really writes on the pulse of what was happening in Scotland at that time and at that moment, and it was so relevant to me.”

Heydon likewise emphasized the elements of the film beyond the beats. “It’s a love story that takes place in a certain time and a certain place. Each character has their own story and their own message.”

I still find the movie a little shaky every time it steps outside the club. But when it’s inside, it’s really inside. Club scenes in movies and TV are often hilariously bad---too brightly lit and sparsely populated to in any way resemble a real dance music experience. Heydon gets it right in Ecstasy, capturing the sweaty bodies, the brilliant-yet-murky lighting and the euphoric build-ups and crescendos of the music. His depiction of characters on E is also credible, and he’s able to show both the light and dark sides of the drug without preachy.

It’s not world-beating stuff, but worth your time, especially if you’ve ever gone through a hardcore clubbing phase. Should be out sometime in the early months of 2012---which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s coming here, of course. Sunday night’s screening (9:25pm at Park Lane) might is the last chance to see it for a while.

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