The Acid House | Chicago Reader

The Acid House

British documentarian Paul McGuigan makes his dramatic debut with this taut trilogy of stories by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting), set in the bleak workers' precincts of Edinburgh. In “A Soft Touch” a meek young grocer (Kevin McKidd) is forced into marriage and then cuckolded by his brazen wife; McGuigan and his actors effectively convey the frustration and pathos of life in the tenements, where people are condemned to repeat their mistakes. Realism gives way to surrealism halfway through “The Granton Star Cause,” when God turns a soccer-crazy slacker into a fly so he can wreak vengeance on those who?ve betrayed him. It's a parable of sorts, exposing the working class for all its crudity, selfishness, and kinky sex; with his cinema verite instincts, McGuigan zeroes in on telling gestures and verbal jousts, making us care about an insignificant life that ends abruptly and ironically. All three stories are visually striking, creating claustrophobic spaces and noting hints of color amid the drabness, but “The Acid House” is dizzyingly inventive as it replicates the highs and lows of LSD. A tripping raver named Coco reverts to infancy as his mind is transferred to the body of a middle-class couple's newborn baby, and what follows is a heady farce about class differences and pretensions, highlighted by the baby's lust and foul slang. It's MTV meets Merchant-Ivory, at once manneristic, hallucinatory, and exhilarating.

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