27 Jan- 9 Feb, DCA, 2017
“Choose your future. Choose life”. The speech from the original cult film remains just as important now as it was twenty years ago. But what is it that lies in the future for three ex-heroin addicts and one man driven by revenge? T2, much like the original Trainspotting, does not gloss over anything as it shows the devastation of trying to fix a shattered past, channelling one addiction into another whether it is jogging, another drug apart from heroin or destroying one’s life in the hope of achieving some long thought out revenge.
For anyone who saw the original film, or read Irvine Welsh’s sequel novel Porno,T2 is (by popular demand) a great way to answer, “What happens next?”. Almost all of the original cast are present, allows the viewer to indulge in nostalgia for their exploits in the 90s, but not all that much has changed twenty years on.
Director Danny Boyle captures the essence of the characters’ highs, lows and progression of their lives just as he did originally. Taking the viewer on a journey through the lives of the ex-addicts that have become some of our favourite figures in Scottish cinema, he deploys excellent humour, nail biting tension and enough nostalgia to bring a tear to one’s eye when it all comes together. For example, when we are first taken back into the house of Mark Renton and we meet his father again, we also see the shadow of his mother on the kitchen wall. She has long since passed, but she still remains with Renton and his father, as an omniscient presence. This scene is a reference to the first Trainspotting and all the original characters are present or at least made present by memories.
Trainspotting 2 offers a warm return for the characters as we learn how they have developed, or rather their failure to. We are given a glimpse into the preceding years of each of their lives and how they react to the changing world with or without their original addictions. Trainspotting was a film about addiction and the journey to overcoming it, as well as all the destruction that an addict can leave behind them. Trainspotting 2 examines life after addiction and what everyone else, hurt or betrayed by the addict in question, deals with and has to go through. While the film is without a doubt very funny in places, it is also crushing to see just how many lives have been affected by the events that occurred twenty years ago.
Ewan McGregor’s character, Mark Renton, may have chosen life twenty years ago, but T2 shows that life has a habit of running you into the ground over and over again. Anyone who was a fan of Trainspotting will be glad to see the characters back together again and pleasantly surprised see them in a different light now that time has moved on and taken the characters with it. Time has passed, but the characters themselves are mostly still stuck in the time of the original film and have done next to nothing to actually change their lives. Renton comes back from Amsterdam since his life fell apart over there, Sick Boy, or Simon has he is known now, is back on drugs, cocaine this time, and pimping out young women for blackmail money and Francis Begbie is driven mad with revenge on Renton for the money he stole. So driven by revenge that he leaves his family and aims to kill Renton for what he did to him so many years ago.
The only original character that has redeemed himself at all is Spud. The hopeless, junkie kid from the first Trainspotting. T2 is very forgiving to Spud and brings him forth to be the hero for a change rather than the pathetic and hopeless addict that he once was.
With nods back in time and references from a time long ago, you will not be disappointed with this brilliantly managed sequel, worthy of the original.
Choose life. Choose Trainspotting 2.