I was born in 1998, which is two years after the original Trainspotting was released. That film being such a staple of British cinema and youth, it had the same affect on me in 2015 as it did to the teenagers back in the late 90’s. Its iconic and masterful, slowly entering my favourite films of all time list with it getting better every time I watch it. So, like everyone else, I was worried going into the sequel. I was expecting a decent follow up, a sort of ‘where are they now’ experience, but actually I got a lot more out of it.
It’s 20 years after the first film, drawing from Irvine Welsh’s sequel Porno the original cast are scattered around. Renton (Ewan McGregor) is returning home from Amsterdam, where he fled after running off with the money at the end of the first film. Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) is running some weird blackmailing business, Spud (Ewen Bremmer) is in desolation struggling with his addictions and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in prison looking for revenge. With Renton’s return to the motherland, a plot of revenge and madness begins again.
Trainspotting fits into that lovely cool film category. Brilliantly made, with style and originality in its editing and visual outfit. The sequel follows much of that formula, except we are officially in reality with T2. Suddenly the characters have lives and meaning, where they were just imaginations before. This isn’t really a criticism because I loved the added field of view. It was interesting, and often disheartening to see where these characters had ended up. Danny Boyle once again has took control of this films rambling content, and it must have been a tricky job, because you have Ewan McGregor in the lead again. Even though the film doesn’t entirely revolve around him, it does it’s best to mask a guy who was in the Star Wars prequels. Ultimately film manages to balance the time gap and stardom of the actors well enough for you to look past it. Therefore credit to the actors, because in them I felt that time passing, I felt that pain. Ewen Bremmer is truly heartbreaking as Spud, where he was perhaps just likeable before. His performance is the soul of the film and on the other side of the scale you have Robert Carlyle’s Begbie, who is absolutely terrifying. Overall I was convinced by the cast and setting, finding myself fitting back into the Edinburgh world.
The truth is it will always be glossier than the first and perhaps not as iconic. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining or interesting. The themes this time revolve mostly around ageing, and emasculation. It’s about the point of it all, and how 20 years on nothing has really changed, it’s just new problems. Also what a lot of people will notice about this film is how funny it is. The pace of the film is electrifying and there is barely a chance to breathe. Consequently the laughs are constant and the film is very much of a comical nature from start to finish, which makes it thoroughly enjoyable.
I really liked this film and I’m looking forward to see it again so that I can take a deeper look at it. There were moments when I was in awe, such as Spud falling from the roof in the chair, or the reminiscing between Renton & Sick Boy. The touching moments really had me, and the film is overshadowed by this melancholic feeling. My best advice and best thing to say about this film is to go and see it, because I don’t think you will disappointed.
Side-note: This was so hard to write, and felt very forced. It turns out writing about something you like is a lot harder than something you don’t.