Cert: 18 / 117 mins / Dir. Danny Boyle / Trailer
"Nostalgia. That's why you're here. You're a tourist in your own youth…"
~ Simon 'Sick Boy' Williamson, T2.
If only all sequels were as self-aware. Packed with callbacks and flashbacks, director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and author Irvine Welsh's long awaited sequel rolls into the station twenty one years after the last service. While the film is far from a rehash, it relies heavily on the dynamics (and clips) of its predecessor to exist. It also doesn't care whether that bothers you or not. With Renton (Ewan McGregor) back from his nervous exile in Amsterdam, Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) now running his aunt's pub in Leith, Spud (Ewen Bremner) still struggling to stay off heroin and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) freshly out of prison, the boys are older but absolutely no wiser. As coincidence and desperation join forces to push the four back together again, Sick Boy's latest girlfriend/business partner Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) acts as the prism through which we get reacquainted. With scores to settle and new deals on the table, the boys are back in town…
This is, it has to be said, a film for fans of Trainspotting. As you might well expect. Occasionally too fixated on its predecessor for its own good, but that's all part of the forced nostalgia vibe, as quoted above. Not as much 'fun' as 1996 outing, but certainly not as prone to utter despair, either. This is the film that's realised it's apparently grown up and doesn't know how it's supposed to act, a feeling which will probably resonate with Generations X and Y in the audience. The screenplay borrows from Welsh's sequel novel Porno and retrospectively from Trainspotting without committing to being a true adaptation of either. As befits the characters we know and love/hate.
The four leads pick up the reins effortlessly, inhabiting their old personas with an ingrained weariness that is no doubt helped by twenty years of being a jobbing actor. Various secondary-characters from the first movie pop up, with screen-time not unlike that which they had the last time (I'm fairly certain they only feel so familiar to me because of how many times I've watched Trainspotting over the years). And threatening to outshine them all is the aforementioned Anjela Nedyalkova, but sadly we don't get to know Veronika as much as I'd have liked. Although given her role in the film, I suspect that's entirely intentional.
In T2*1, echoes of a shared past rearrange into the mistakes of the present and regrets of the future. In any other film this could be lazy writing, but here it's a sign that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Like gangsters, psychopaths and monsters, we can spend time with this bunch of utter misfits in the cinema so that we don't have to associate with them in real life. Grinning at their excesses, wincing at their follies and laughing at their stupidity.
Compelling yet charmless; gloriously and selfishly nihilistic. T2 Trainspotting is, in the best way, a film which stopped giving a fuck two decades before it was made. Choose life, indeed...
Well let's be honest, Trainspotting.
If you want to see it, you'll want to see it a) big and b) loud and c) soon.
As much as I loved it, I'm not sure I'd go that far.
This film is not for everybody.
Level 1: Obi-Wan Kenobi's in this.
*1 Although while I'm on, what kind of title is "T2 Trainspotting", anyway? Obviously you can't properly market a film called 'Porno', but at least have a think about what rolls off the tongue, eh?
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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