T2 Trainspotting (2017)

*SPOILERS OF T1*

trainspotting2I’ve always said that nostalgia was the drug of choice for most people in the UK. Trainspotting was about the addictive, attractive and destructive nature of heroin.

T2 is about the warping melancholy of re-living, relishing and remembering the past. It’s a past that is re-imagined and glorified by the characters. Begbie (Carlyle) has an expression of joy as he moves his hands whilst recalling slashing someone with a knife.

We last saw Renton (McGregor) legging it with most of the £14.000 of ill-gotten loot he was meant to split with his pals. 20 years on he has come home to Edinburgh.

Sick Boy, (Jonny Lee Miller) batters him at their reunion and if you remember Begbie you can probably guess his reaction. Spud (Bremner) is friendlier but then he was left his share of the money.

There is a nominal plot about plans to convert Sick Boy’s run down pub into a brothel (or sauna as they prefer to call them in Edinburgh!) but that’s not really the heart of the film. The key part of the film is the relationship between the four male characters. Female characters don’t really get much of a look in. Anjela Nedyalkova, as Veronika, gets most time and is given some good lines (so is more than just eye candy) but this is really about the guys.

The guys haven’t matured much and are still mired in a swamp of their own making. glorifying the past. This sequel isn’t about how they have progressed but how little they’ve really changed. That’s the tragedy and the point. Of all of them it is Begbie who shows most insight. There is a moving scene with his Son where he confronts his own relationship with his Father. Tellingly, his wife is present but is just a bystander to this event. Sick Boy has ‘progressed’ from heroin – to cocaine. We see them in middle age wishing they were young again. They are at their most energetic when talking about the past or taking the risks they used to. It’s at these moments the film comes alive, Renton and Sick Boy trying to explain football to Veronika or the hilarious robbing of a Loyalist drinking club. There is real dark humour here.

T2 takes us, as viewers, on our own nostalgic trip in a clever playful way. With flashbacks to the original, Renton revisiting the “Choose Life” monologue, while the soundtrack revisits music from the original soundtrack with the twist that they are remixed versions or covers. That may be a subtle comment on the way the characters memories work.

The other stars of T2 are Edinburgh and the Leith banter/dialogue (as it was in T1). We see a lot more of it than in the original film. Not just Leith but even as far as the more affluent Meadows! It looks great (and it is).

Though T2 has a somewhat depressing theme but the humour and pace take the edge of that. It is a film that makes you think about nostalgia, friendship, betrayal, addiction, risk – in short ‘life’. Choose it!

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

See here for his review of Trainspotting 1

Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: John Hodge, Irvine Welsh (novels)
Ewan McGregor
as Mark Renton
Ewen Bremner
as Spud
Jonny Lee Miller
as Sick Boy
Robert Carlyle
as Begbie
Kelly Macdonald
as Diane
Anjela Nedyalkova
as Veronika

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