“First there was an opportunity, and then there was a betrayal.”
The long awaited and equally feared sequel to the 1996 cult classic Trainspotting pulled into theatres on the 27th of January. Twenty one years later seems a bit excessive but the long gap between the films was mostly due to the cast not looking that much older (drinking a bit too much from the Hollywood Fountain of Youth) and the fact that Danny Boyle and Ewan MacGregor had more than a decade long falling out. Nevertheless, the boys are back and definitely can’t be ignored.
The film is based on Irvine Welsh’s follow up novel Prono and it follows the general plot of friends betraying friends. We left the end of the first film with MacGregor’s Rent Boy running off with everyone’s money, and as you can imagine they’re not best pleased about it – even 20 years on, can you imagine. The gang are all in very different places as the film begins; Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in prison, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) is scamming his way through life one line of cocaine at a time, Spud (Ewen Bremner) is sadly stuck in the same place that we left him in at the end of the first film and Renton is in Amsterdam and has been since he ran away (spoiler: he arrives at Edinburgh airport within the first five minutes of the film, wouldn’t be much fun if he didn’t, would it?).
There is a definite theme throughout the film, which is evident from the get go, and that is the betrayal of the friend. We find out that Renton gave Spud a share of the money before he left for a life in Amsterdam but left Sick Boy and Renton out in the cold, their anger about this takes them down some serious and at times slightly comical paths. Without giving any major spoilers the film has a few of the same plot points of the first film, which some may argue that this fact makes the highly anticipated sequel a bit of a let down but in my opinion there is so much else going on in the film that it shouldn’t be worth getting worked up about it.
Going into the film I was curious to see how they were going to portray the lives of heroin addicts, Trainspotting in a way glamorised heavy drug taking. The film had its dark moments of course, such as the death of Sick Boy’s daughter but it still didn’t hit home that it wasn’t a life to lead because they still played to their habit. However, T2 truly shows the effects of a long standing drug addiction and the impact that it can have on someone’s life long term. This is shown through Spud, his family life is in tatters and he feels more alone than ever and it takes a old friend showing up to bring him out of it. In one scene, Renton and Spud are running up the hill to Arthur’s Seat and he tells Spud not to stop being an addict but just find something else to be addicted to admitting that he became addicted to running away.
Everything about the film is modernised, even the famous Choose Life speech “Choose Facebook. Choose Twitter” but what I really enjoyed about the film was the soundtrack. It had classics that cause nostalgia to hit you like a bus but it also included a plethora of songs from the past 2000s and onwards, Wolf Alice’s song Silk, which featured in the trailer, was one of my favourite ‘modern’ additions. If you’re not too keen on the film that’s fine but the soundtrack is the perfect mix of old and new which ultimately is what I think this sequel is.
So, would I go on and on about this film until the cows come home? Yes, I loved it. I thought Danny Boyle and the boys did nothing to disappoint and created a great film. It has definitely divided opinions, but everyone still says the same thing, you have to go and see it for yourself. Trainspotting is a cult classic and a true modern masterpiece; it’s what put Boyle on the map. So I urge you to go and see T2, you might not like it as much as the first but you won’t regret going to see it.
– Caitlin Young