Choose getting it right. Choose a worthy successor to the original. Choose one of the finest ensemble casts in cinema. Choose T2: Trainspotting.
In this day and age if any film is remotely successful, then studio executives with dollar bills flashing in their eyes will leap at the chance for a sequel/prequel/spin-off. Therefore the announcement of Trainspotting 2 (T2: Trainspotting, sorry) was met with a certain degree of skepticism. Phrases like “cash-in” get thrown about, and then there are those that simply worry a stinker of a sequel will tarnish the original’s name.
Thankfully nobody was more worried about this than Danny Boyle and the film’s cast and crew. They’ve managed to craft a film that doesn’t just follow on from the original, but also acts as a companion piece. The key components to the original are all there: the familiar characters, moments of its iconic soundtrack, a level of glorious depravity and human filth. Instead of leaving you wishing you were back in the past however, the story justifies itself and this is all down to its central characters.
Spud, Renton, Sick Boy and particularly Begbie are not very nice people. They do things that aren’t always very nice to watch. The monumental success of Trainspotting has always been down to taking a group of individuals you wouldn’t expect to be represented in mainstream entertainment, and making you care about them. Underneath T2’s enjoyable antics is a beating heart of melancholy, particularly encapsulated by the character of Spud who deservedly takes a pretty central role.
It’s clear that each actor has no trouble sinking back into the skin of the characters that made them. Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller, excel in their scenes together as Renton and Sick Boy, both disgusted by what they see in each other, yet drawn together by a deep bond of inexplicable friendship. Robert Carlyle relishes in the gleeful madness of Begbie, yet at times manages to reveal a hint of humanity underneath. Ewen Bremner steals the show as the lovable Spud, reminding us to care about the character’s plights.
This film stands on its own feet, but it only really lifts off if you’ve both seen and feel a connection to the original. It certainly isn’t shy of being awash in nostalgia, but it definitely has something new to say. Taking a trip down memory lane has its highs and lows, but it makes an excellent piece of cinema.