Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner
Running Time: 117 minutes
Release Date: January 27th
Drugs are bad…but they’re also kinda good. There, the overarching thematic purpose of T2 Trainspotting has been effectively summarised and there’s little need to go into further detail. That’s not to say that it doesn’t deal with a wide variety of topics, ranging from the futility felt by those in the middle class or the clichéd (albeit amazingly fleshed out) importance of friendship. There is without a doubt a lot to consider when discussing director Danny Boyle’s latest but perhaps what’s most important here is to keep in mind the initial statement. T2 Trainspotting is many things and playfully explores many topics but nevertheless, at its cinematic core, it primarily only attempts to be one thing; and it is unequivocally honest with the viewer, even to its own detriment and our collective enjoyment.
T2 Trainspotting picks up twenty years after its predecessor, following the old cast as they are now embedded in middle-aged existence which is shaken up when Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh in an attempt to piece together the broken pieces of his life and make amends with his former childhood friends. As one would expect this is everything but simple, as Mark’s reappearance sends the lives of Spud, Simon and Franco into disarray. The plot isn’t extremely complex nor that impressive when you really think about it, but subsequently benefits the viewers who haven’t seen the first film.
The beauty of Trainspotting and its sequel was and very much still is the spectacular world building catered for by Boyle. It feels like Scotland and more importantly feels like the version of Scotland you would see through the eyes of a recovered or recovering drug addict. The world is completely surreal. Thundering music thrashes at its epicentre providing the film’s heartbeat, the shots dramatically fluctuate between relatively regular to bizarre fixations and impossible angles. The cuts are jumpy, sporadic and refreshingly unique. T2 Trainspotting feels fundamentally like a high; it’s erratic, brazenly energetic, dangerous and beautiful in a dark, kind of messed up way. Although it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new in comparison to the original, it looks at the world in a more sober, matured perspective at the very least.
There’s a subtle nuance to the performances that will honestly surprise you, and not because they seem so wildly out of place in a rapturous, wacky and yet dark torrent. In the quiet moments where actors are given room to unravel, to silently contemplate, all the humour and mania dissipates into oblivion as reality comes crashing around and traps them. It’s etched across their faces, defeat. The monotonous erosion of life has worn away the gang and the feeling of insignificance is palpable. These moments are rare and curt in nature, but lend a higher degree of impact and emotional dissonance. It enhances the overall intoxication of the work, where you are forced to experience this genuine guttural emotion, but are kept at arm’s length with drugs, hookers and schemes. Boyle creates a perfect replica of adulthood that still feels foreign to the viewer. The truth is, the real truth is that life can feel foreign for everyone and there’s nothing to guarantee that you’ll find your way. T2 Trainspotting inhabits this land of duality, where much needed balance can be found in contents of a baggie or the very lack thereof. Drugs are bad…but they’re also kinda good.