Trainspotting. For years I remained in blissful ignorance about why a film about looking at trains could have gained so much notoriety. I know. It’s laughable. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing to even admit that amount of ignorance.
People told me how I had to watch this film; how it was such an important piece of 90s cinema. And yet still, I didn’t. Until T2 Trainspotting came along. It was only through sheer proxy that I was exposed to this bleak and starkly depressing world.
It’s hard to talk about T2 without recapping the original. The cult classic, released in 1996, depicted life as a drug addict. And man, it ain’t pretty. The film follows a group of five delinquents: Renton (Ewan McGregor), Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and Tommy (Kevin McKidd). In their quest for drugs (and money), they land in a predicament that reeks of betrayal.
20 years later, the team has grown up. Well, some of them. There is depression, heroin, violence, regret, sex, lies and betrayal. But you know what? T2 is actually hell of a lot more upbeat than the first one.
The entire original cast is back and the shock tactics have been dialled down a few notches; in place of a good dose of violence.
What I liked about this film is its brutal honesty about the drug scene. It’s not something that is pretty or anything to aspire to; and Danny Boyle (again directing) has done a convincing job of depicting the darker sides of Edinburgh.
The star and narrator, Renton, has grown up, stayed clean and made a life for himself, it seems. Sick Boy is now running a thinly-veiled brothel, but Begbie has probably fared worst of them all.
However, it was Spud’s charming and genuine demeanour that enthralled the audience. He wants to write the group’s adventures, and with a little help - he does. Who knew there was more to this soul than previously thought - he’s a damn good writer.
For diehard fans of the original, there are plenty of in-jokes, references and that classic music snippet from Pulp to help bring the entire sequel together and in line with the original.
T2 Trainspotting is something of an adult’s look back at the sheer chaos the group raised in their youth - it’s nostalgia and memory for them; and indeed will be nostalgia for most of the audience.
It shows that sometimes youth never truly dies; that sometimes drugs can get a wee bit too difficult to resist; but underneath it all there’s still just people who are trying to find their way through a drug-addled past in the hope of finding happiness.
Choose life? Choose T2 Trainspotting if you want something that’s real and gritty, yet still manages to come out the other side as a solid sequel.
T2 Trainspotting is in cinemas now.