I finally got around to watching the new Trainspotting sequel last week, and it did not disappoint.
The original 1996 film was a massive cultural phenomenon, a shift away from the period costume dramas that dominated most of the British film industry in the 1980s and early 1990s. Even if you didn’t come of age during the heyday of Britpop, as most people in my generation didn’t, the film still resonates with a lot of people.
Luckily, the sequel does not disappoint.
Partially based off the novel’s sequel Porno, T2 follows Mark as he returns from his self-imposed exile in Amsterdam, confronting the actions of what he did twenty years previous. Begbie’s in prison, Sick Boy’s running an unsuccessful pub in the last non-gentrified area in Edinburgh, with a small blackmail operation on the side. And poor Spud is still an addict.
To try to recreate the original would be a mistake, but Danny Boyle manages to seamless blend clips from the first film into the memories of the characters, along with clips from their friendships as children. This is a film about addicts and ex-addicts trying to avoid the ghosts of the past, but it is also a film about ageing.
If this seems all a bit melancholy, then don’t worry. The script is filled with much of the same black humour as the first film, with recaps of the deaths of Tommy and Baby Dawn juxtaposed with a brilliant scene set in a Protestant social club.
All the orginal cast are on top form, managing to highlight their character’s dissatisifaction with the situations they’ve ended up in, as well as the strong and often painful bonds of friendship that they have with each other. One new character, Simon’s partner and prostitute Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) although key to the narrative of the film is somewhat underwritten, sidelined by the original characters despite her relavance to the plot.
It is all stamped with Danny Boyle’s unique style of filmmaking: exaggerated tilt shifts, pulsing action sequences, and scenes where the colours become illuminating and dominant. It’s a funny, unique film that doesn’t ruin the appeal of the original but will almost certainly become a classic in it’s own right.
And, of course, the soundtrack is brilliant. Combining the hits that were such a major aspect of Trainspotting’s appeal, such as a cracking remix of Born Slippy, songs by Blondie and The Clash, with recent additions by Young Fathers and Wolf Alice. Pretty much my only grievence with the film is the criminal underuse of the Fat White Family track (and a personal favourite) ‘Whitest Boy on the Beach’ which is left until the second credits sequence.
But T2 is a funny, unique film that doesn’t ruin the appeal or legacy of the original but will almost certainly become a classic in it’s own right.