By Andrew Harwood

This week, keeping the comedy theme going, as promised, we’re taking a hop over the ladder, making a major 180 from romantic comedy and discussing the dark comedy. 

“Dark Comedy” (often referred to as “black comedy”) can be defined as a subgenre of comedy film that takes typically grim and controversial topics, such as crime, murder, war and death in a humorous way. 

Think of the last scene of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” when the slowly dying prisoners nailed to crucifixes burst out in an uplifting song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Without a doubt, mass crucifixion is not humorous to many people but there-in lies the dark comedy humor of making a not-so-enjoyable scene enjoyable.

Aside from “Life of Brian” and all the other Monty Python films, there are hundreds of other examples of dark comedy. With films like “Dr. Strangelove,” “Heathers,” “Fargo,” “In Bruges” and, our spotlight film for the week, “Trainspotting.” 

Based on the book by Irvine Welsh, “Trainspotting” follows the life of Mark Renton, played by a young Ewan McGregor and several of his friends as they battle heroin addiction and a life of petty crime in Edinburgh during the late 1990s. Things only get more complicated when Mark gets involved with an underage girl and one of his friends becomes a wanted fugitive.

Written by Jon Hodge and directed by Danny Boyle, “Trainspotting” opens with a chase scene through the streets of Edinburgh accompanied by a voice over by McGregor. With the film brushing on topics aside from addiction such as death, crime and relationships, the film becomes a glorification of life and its troubles, and not just an ode to heroin. 

In all, “Trainspotting” explores just how much of a challenge it can be to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Even when that light is a bag of cash, a safe deposit box and a pint of lager.  Remembered for its vivid graphic depiction of heroin use and its consequences, clever humor, originality, punchy script and a remarkable performance by McGregor, “Trainspotting” is truly in a lane of its own.