Score: 5 out of 5 (Classic)
Directed by Danny Boyle, director of the original Trainspotting, and sporting the same cast, T2 returns to Edinburgh, revealing what has happened to the original gang in the past 20 years.
T2 is a rarity in cinema, a sequel which stands alone from the original as a complete whole, bearing the hallmarks of a classic film in its own right. In an era where films are not tales which begin, develop and end, but form a conveyor belt of Easter Eggs and teases, T2 is a refreshing anomaly.
The original Trainspotting captured the zeitgeist of the 1990’s. T2 also shares the nostalgia of Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) for that lost era, while presenting the failure of British society to realise the optimism of the 1990’s. Across Edinburgh, the haunts of the working class have disappeared. The pubs and estates of Trainspotting are gone, replaced by upscale bars and high-end apartments. Sick Boy’s (Jonny Lee Miller) pub, a family business which holds more memories than customers stands amidst a sea of redevelopment.
T2 begins with Renton, but the narrative truly focuses upon Spud and Begbie (Robert Carlyle), two characters who are stuck in the past. T2 delivers a more sympathetic portrayal of both Spud and Begbie. Spud is a man whose life has been consumed by Heroin, leaving him at rock bottom. Begbie, although never stated within the film, has become institutionalised during his imprisonment after the first film, fixated upon revenge against Renton. During T2 we come to understand Begbie, although I cannot divulge any more details. It is a testament to the original film that I never noticed how one sided both Begbie and Spud were, playing the role of thug and fool respectively.
Boyle is the best British director alive today, as proven by T2. He splices the real world with CGI effects and projected images, letting us see the memories and internal struggles of the main cast. Boyle makes us understand and sympathise with characters without resorting to dialogue. This accomplishment is remarkable because the main cast are unlikable people who often betray one another for self-gain. Boyle expertly uses shadows and flashbacks to show how Renton has not overcome the life he lead 20 years before. Renton’s shadow transforms into the profile of his dead mother when he returns to his family home. When T2 concludes, a younger Renton returns home. Personally, young Renton’s appearance at the conclusion signals that Renton is only now ready to move on with his life, despite his 20 years away from home.
John Hodge, the writer of T2, alongside Danny Boyle’s directing, temper the dark subject matter of T2 with humour, leading to scenes which will cause audiences to laugh out loud. These comedic moments are bolstered by the acting of the main cast, especially Robert Carlyle in his portrayal of Begbie.
The best scenes in the film revolve around Spud and his attempts to overcome his heroin addiction. Boyle uses special effects and camera work to flesh out his character. Spud’s life has been consumed by heroin, shown by the empty and soulless council flat he calls home. Spud’s addiction is both a friend and a monster, at times appearing as Spud’s double or a black shadow on the wall lunging for heroin, invoking the spirit of Nosferatu.
T2 is the sequel which Trainspotting fans had been hoping for, delivering a satisfying finality to the story and the characters. T2 also stands by itself and can be enjoyed without having to watch the original.
Target audiences: Everyone and anyone over 15.
By Saul Shimmin
For the trailer see below:
P.S: Please watch Boyle’s Steve Jobs, a hidden gem which starred Michael Fassbender as the legend behind Apple. For the trailer see below: