T2: Trainspotting (18)

Dir: Danny Boyle

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You’re a tourist in your own youth …”

Choose life.  Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently and choose watching history repeat itself … Choose being challenged and engaged by an incredible sequel to one of the coolest films of all time.

Here we are then, after 20 years Director Danny ‘Steve Jobs’ Boyle brings Irvine Welsh’s druggie scallywags back to the big screen in this powerful sequel based loosely on the novel Porno. Much has changed – Mark ‘Rent-boy’ Renton (Ewan McGregor) has escaped the drugs ironically living in Amsterdam – but nagging regrets about ripping off his friends sees him return to the only place he can ever really call home.

Waiting for him are his old ‘pals’ – lifetime loser Spud (Ewen Bremner), Simon / ‘Sick Boy’ (Jonny Lee Miller), and furious psycho Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Also there is Diane (Kelly Macdonald) Renton’s ‘one that got away’ and a host of sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, heroin, self-destruction, oh, and mortal danger …

New to the troubled goings on is Veronika (the excellent Anjela Nedyalkova), she’s Simon’s girlfriend / partner in a criminal activity but she immediately catches Renton’s eye which could put strain on their already fraught relationship. Cue violence, sex, swearing (so much swearing) and all sorts of negative behaviour that is liable to offend so approach with caution.

While T2 can’t hope to match the iconic freshness of the original, it certainly brings a fascinating take on a full on cinematic mid-life nostalgia. Perhaps it’s because I’m the same age as Renton but his seeking for meaning and redemption is one that I can see resonating with many who pause to take stock of their lives. Just what have you achieved? Who really loves you and who do you really care about? What is there left for you going forward?

Boyle does a great job of delivering both a reality check for sentimental fans of the original and a cool account of the further chaos that follows these characters around like restless malevolent shadows. The cinematography is excellent, there’s a pumping new soundtrack which includes the awesome ‘Silk’ by Wolf Alice and some great vibrant jumbled visuals that keep this very much in the vein of the first film.

Thinking Material

Life – what’s it all about eh? T2 really hits home with the self-analysis of its leading male characters which is refreshing as this isn’t something tackled enough by mainstream movies. When Spud decides to end it all – his farewell note to his long suffering wife is one of the most tragic things you’ll ever witness (it’s also on the excellent soundtrack set to sounds of Underworld – which is really worth a listen even if you’re not planning to see the film).
The nostalgic memories of childhood, teenage antics, student days and working life can be viewed through overly fond ‘rosy glasses’ and the disappointment of reality can be a crushing blow. Who doesn’t have a dream, a girl, a project, a friend or aspiration that never worked out and now seems beyond reach. The truth is you can’t always rekindle the energy, joy or excitement of youth but rather the key is surely to find satisfaction in where you are and who you are now. Having a faith is not a glib ‘cover all’ which will protect you from disappointment or regret but it can be a positive way of accepting life as it is and looking forward with renewed hope. It’s also a lot better than trying to find a coping mechanism in drugs which is one of the pitfalls highlighted by Trainspotting.

We’re all addicts of some sort, so be addicted – just be addicted to something better. Choose the ones you love. Choose your future. Choose life. Choose T2 Trainspotting.

Rating:
*****

4 out of 5 stars
Related Films: Trainspotting, Human Traffic, The Acid House