T2 TRAINSPOTTING is the only ride you’ll need this weekend
No, seeing Trainspotting (1996) prior to seeing T2 Trainspotting is not a requirement. In fact, director Danny Boyle eases you into the native brogue with slick, roving subtitles so your brain can catch up to your ear. For fans of the original, this is a reunion of sorts, and everyone can use a primer.
It’s been 20 years and not much has changed. Simon “Sick Boy” (Jonny Lee Miller) is a pimp and an addict, Daniel “Spud” (Ewen Bremner) is destitute and an addict, and “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is serving time. Only Mark “Rent Boy” (Ewan McGregor) has fared better, but he had a head start on the others beginning many years ago with ill-gotten money. Mark is back in Leith, making a fresh start of his own, and reconnecting with his former best friends is neither smooth nor is he warmly received.
“First there was an opportunity, then there was a betrayal”, and that’s pretty much the theme. These are addicts, after all, and making an honest buck between them isn’t in their makeup. Caught in the flotsam of schemes and backstabbing is Veronica (Anjela Nedyalkova), Simon’s best whore and girlfriend. She has aspirations of her own, both parallel and lofty compared to Simon, and she knows her fortunes lie elsewhere.
This is the essence of reunions. It’s easy to get caught up in the hazy nostalgia of the good times before slugging it out over long past slights.
And these slights run deep. Simon wants to see Mark suffer. Begbie wants to see Mark dead, and Spud – he’s the only character to go by his former nickname – just wants to be left alone to become the archivist of their triumphs and misery. This reunion hasn’t necessarily done him any favors, but he finds purpose and direction in a way he hadn’t realized was possible. He is the catalyst that sets Act 3 in motion, but he’s a writer and understands that life is horror and conflict, especially when it’s self-created.
T2 Trainspotting is loosely based on “Porno”, by Irving Welsh. The book is 10 years ahead of Trainspotting, but this film jumps another decade, because nothing decent happens 10 years later. In 10 years, you’ve only glimpsed your future self, but in 20, you know the exploits of your youth are best told over pints in pubs, not recreated to drunken finality.
The soundtrack is frenetic, the drug use rampant, and the conversation, for as bleak as the subject dwells, is lyrical and creates its own romanticized beauty. Screenwriter John Hodge coaxes from the source material the hard grudges and deep love these characters have for one another. These are the people we once knew. These are hard lives after 20 years of hard living, and sure they’re familiar, but they’re so very different. It’s a movie of broken relationships and tentative reconciliations and – well, you know where this is going. It’s not unexpected because it’s life, as banal and magical as it’s ever been.
T2 Trainspotting is rated-R for hard fighting, nudity, sex, language, and violence – exactly what you’d expect from a film about men living rough.