There was a little smidgen of panic edging in at the corners of my mind…
The media build up to T2 Trainspotting has been setting my expectations at a massively unachievable level for weeks now with the panic steadily increasing and shouting louder “But what if it’s no good?”
As the first 5 minutes flicker up on screen the panic is quickly smothered and I settle into what turns out to be a 20 year on sequel that fully matches its’ predecessor and keeps the edgy style that inducted the first film into cult history!
Its’ suitably kept up with the times, Edinburgh has generationally moved on, but not so for our 4 friends who seem to be static, struggling to move beyond the circumstances we left them in a score ago. Director Danny Boyle has, once again, done total justice to Irvine Welsh’s gritty, heroin-addicted Scotsmen. The actors are 20 years older but you genuinely feel you are meeting up with the same characters, whom you haven’t seen in an age.
We meet Renton (Ewan McGregor), two decades on, experiencing a life changing moment which sets his heart on a return journey back to his Scotland home. Woven into flashbacks to their youth and to the events of the first film, T2 cleverly brings us up to date with where Mark Renton’s betrayal of his friends has left them all; which, to be fair is pretty much exactly the same place he left them, with the exception being Begbie who has taken up long term residence in HMP Edinburgh.
The addiction that was at the heart of the first film is definitely still core, although this time it’s not just one class A substance degrading life and lives of those around. Sex, new drugs and exercise ‘n’ revenge have joined the party with varying consequences.
Even though Begbie’s main revenge is focussed on Renton watching the reaction in each of them facing Begbie for the first time is genius; Simon’s (aka Sickboy played by Jonny Lee Miller) cautious ‘should I stay or should I go’ look, Spud’s frozen to the spot, abject fear and Renton’s ‘how do I get out of this one’ look sum up fear in all its forms.
I was 20 at the release of T1 (are we calling it that now?) and while I can say I have never been addicted to drugs, never experienced life in a Scottish city, and never needed to resort to a life of petty crime to support addiction; still this film is deeply relatable. It makes you sit back and ask — what the hell have I actually done with the last 20 years, how have I changed? What bridges do I need to mend? That 2.5 hours of film can conjure such a deep level of self-assessment is pretty impressive!
This film is a hard edge look at 4 lives in brilliant detail. It’s real life with all the ups, the downs, the struggles, and the crazy. Watch out for Begbie (thank you Robert Carlyle) he has some lost little boy moments that you don’t expect (I loved this), watch out for his interactions with Franco Jr! However, it is Spud (Ewan Bremner) that really captured me on this one. In the fight to get clean he finds a new addiction which is just brilliant and ties everything together beautifully. Plus he gets the show stealing ‘vom’ moment too.
Little snapshots keep coming to back to me, and I want to see it again. Did I forget to mention the soundtrack? As with the first film, the soundtrack is not to be missed (homage to artists gone littered throughout). When I pause on it, I think I’ve missed loads and need a second chance. I’ll be going again.
Go see it! 5 out of 5 stars.
Written by Helen. @Inlakesh