What are a bunch of Canadians doing cluttering up the Edinburgh drug scene? That’s the mystery behind Ecstasy, a Canadian screen adaptation of one story from Irvine Welsh’s short story collection of the same title. The story in question, Undefeated, is not the gritty Scot’s best work and throwing Canadian characters and talent into the mix only compounds this script’s already serious problems. Trainspotting this ain’t.
Lloyd (Adam Sinclair) is a relentless clubber and indebted drug mule who lives for his next dose of ecstasy. He buddies around with Woodsy (Billy Boyd), who literally believes the drug is a gift from God and Ally (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), who wants to open a vegan café. The film starts off promisingly with the wonderfully cheeky and unworried Lloyd’s little trip to Amsterdam in service of the thuggish drug dealer Solo (Carlo Rota, whom you might remember from Little Mosque on the Prairie.) It looks like the film may be about to explore fairly safe no-honour-among-thieves territory as Lloyd concocts a scheme to make a bit on the side, but that plot never becomes sufficiently complex to be interesting and as the scheme inevitably derails so does the film.
The sweet but straight-laced Heather (Kristin Kreuk) is introduced as Lloyd’s love interest: she is a Torontonian working a dead-end job as a secretary at Narcotics Scotland and it’s an awkward transposition if ever there was one. If this woman is so stuck, why doesn’t she just hop on the next plane back to Pearson? The original character was a local; adding this element of exoticism to the story breaks the ghastly claustrophobia of Scottish low life that was so key to Trainspotting’s success.
When Woodsy winds up in the psych ward (Boyd’s twitchy performance is one of the better things about this film) and Lloyd gets into serious trouble on what he swears will be his final trip to Amsterdam, Welsh himself goes off the rails: the story goes all moral and there is nothing any Canadian or Scot can do to redeem it.
This increasingly unamusing movie actually sends out the exact opposite signal of its purported message: seems like life without drugs just isn’t that much fun.