Lou Reed–Perfect Day

Trainspotting was known for its propulsive 90s soundtrack and canny use of music, but the best scene in the film, and one of the most affecting uses of music in all of film, came at the hands of a much earlier cut, Lou Reed’s Perfect Day.  It’s a song of pure beauty, but deeply penetrated by sadness.  “It’s such a perfect day/I’m glad I spent it with you,” it begins before descending into elegy of what sounds like a last day on earth, finally giving into the darkness threatening to drag each of us down.  In a stroke of utter genius, Danny Boyle uses it as the soundtrack to an overdose, the soaring warmth of too much heroin that leads to the deadly low.  The screen is literally bookended by the world, as Ewan McGregor’s Mark Renton sinks six feet below into an effective coffin.  Reed’s soporific, affectless vocals and the serenely melancholy piano deliver Mark to the underworld.  But it’s not to be that day.  “You just keep me hanging on,” Reed declares.  It’s a song on the edge: pulchritudinous, wistful and almost unbearably moving.

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