This 2011 film just scrapes on to Glasgow on Film, as the city’s presence is very fleeting. Yet again Glasgow is on stand-in duty for Edinburgh, however on this occasion the capital has more genuine screen time. What sets Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy apart from the likes of Trainspotting and the forthcoming Filth is that this movie is a Canadian production and therefore nearly all the interior scenes and some exterior scenes were filmed in Ontario.
Something that strikes the viewer about Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy is that the majority of the cast in this Scottish story are clearly not Scottish – natives lead actor Adam Sinclair and Billy Boyd aside, the rest of the cast appear to be Canadian. Sadly Canada’s strong Scottish roots do not guarantee a natural talent for Scottish accents here – the speech of major and minor characters seems to drift between Ireland and all regions of Scotland, with shades of Welsh comedian John Sparkes and the two “Foreign Guys” characters from Family Guy even creeping in at points. Failure for an actor to carry off a foreign accent is not an unforgivable thing (good grief, Sean Connery can hardly be praised for his efforts in sounding Russian, Spanish etc), but it does feel off-putting when nearly everyone in Edinburgh seems to talk so oddly. The film should not be written off on this basis however – particularly as some internet searching threw up a Daily Record interview with Billy Boyd in which he confesses his frustration with the lack of Scottish input to the feature, but states that director Rob Heydon had been trying his best for some years to make it a Canadian-UK co-production and that lack of funding from this side of the Atlantic led to him grudgingly taking so much of the production to Canada.
For their part, Adam Sinclair and Billy Boyd do the story justice – Sinclair in particular appears particularly comfortable as the central character Lloyd, a young man submerged in the world of chemical drugs and looking to break free from it. Canadian Kristin Kreuk, as Lloyd’s love interest Heather, is good too – shining perhaps as she is playing the part as a Canadian and not having to attempt a Lothian accent.
The film has a decent vibe about it – a good pace, although some sped up sequences feel like they have been borrowed from Trainspotting. Edinburgh looks pretty good throughout.
Glasgow Royal Infirmary appears in exterior footage for a hospital scene, while there is a very brief glimpse of Lloyd carrying out an exchange on the steps of what was Borders book store (soon to be a Zizzi restaurant) on Royal Exchange Square.