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Trainspotting: Sick Boy

Cool, handsome but utterly amoral Sean Connery fan

Main image of Trainspotting: Sick Boy

Renton: He's always been lacking in moral fibre.
Mother Superior: He knows a lot about Sean Connery.
Renton: That's hardly a substitute.

Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) is a charming wide-boy, forever hiding behind a fa├žade of coolness and making inane comments about Sean Connery, while cooking up his next heroin hit.

Of all the heroin-using characters in Trainspotting, Sick Boy is the one who seems least affected by the drug. When Renton kicks his habit for the first time, so does Sick Boy, not because he particularly feels the need to do so but just to annoy his friend and undermine his struggle. If anything, Sick Boy makes heroin appear less like an addiction and more like a lifestyle accessory.

The film only touches on the question of how far his persona is genuine or just social camouflage. Similarly, it leaves us wondering whether Sick Boy's amoral behaviour in the latter part of the story - pimping, drug-dealing and all round scamming - is because of a fundamental criminality or part of a nihilistic backlash after the death of his neglected child earlier in the film. There can be no doubt that part of his swaggering charm is lost after this event, as Renton notes: "Something inside Sick Boy died and never returned."

While Renton escapes the confines of Edinburgh for the streets of London, Sick Boy remains in the Scottish capital, determined to make a name for himself within the criminal fraternity by any means necessary. He becomes obsessed with developing useful contacts for that elusive 'big deal', and sticks a finger in any pie on offer. When he makes an unexpected visit to Renton, who's already annoyed at Begbie's unwelcome presence, he offers to sell his host's passport and "get a good price".

The change in Sick Boy's activities does not really show a change in character. Despite favouring seedy scams over skag sessions, Sick Boy maintains his self-absorption. He becomes an exploitative pimp and opportunistic drug-pusher who wouldn't think twice about screwing anyone over in the cause of self-advancement. But then, he didn't get that name from his mother in the first place...

Paul Clarke

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