T2 Trainspotting is beautiful dirge in the form of a post-script
With misanthrope-obsessed Danny Boyle back at the helm, T2 Trainspotting sees us reunite with the old gang. Friends (or more accurately, frenemies) Spud, Renton, Sick Boy and Begbie are still wreaking havoc across beautiful/ugly Edinburgh. Time has not been kind to these characters who last saw each other 20 years ago, before Mark Renton’s opportunistic betrayal. Everyone is tortured, bracing fully against the gail-like force of disadvantage that rails against them each day with a comedic tone which transforms them to something beyond mere victims of circumstance. Consequently, you spend a lot of the film torn between states. Unsure of whether to be upset at the raw, affronting nature of events (e.g. attempted suicide) or to laugh at the absurd reality of each dark situation (e.g. characters being grossed out by asphyxiation-induced projective vomit).
Although not a direct adaptation, T2 takes most of its ammunition from Irvine Welsh’s follow-up to Trainspotting, Porno. The effect is a 'chapterisation' of the plot. The written word necessitates a well thought-out approach to storytelling which creates a carefully curated gallery of tableaus; each piece tessellates with the former to make every detail pertinent to the overall whole.
T2 is best at its most self-referential, the large majority of the soundtrack using contemporary music falls upon deaf ears. The grunge and dirge is so much better accompanied by Iggy Pop. Luckily, T2 is filled with anti-Hallmark moments that so jovially raise a glass to the original film. Reverberations that include gross toilets, the old steam-train wallpaper and the ‘Choose Life’ monologue. Fans will appreciate these little moments like Diane’s cameo as a lawyer, telling Renton that his current girl is ‘too young for him’. But my personal favourite is seeing Renton fall over the hood of a car looking exulted and immortal.
In typical Irvine Welsh fashion, the second installment of Trainspotting is messy in its action, yet neat as extension of the original. This film acts as an almost-loving postscript to a punchy 'fuck you' letter; it isn’t so in your face as the main text. There’s not much subversive insight but there doesn’t need to be. T2 rounds off the addictive cult ride of Trainspotting with trim, tongue-in-cheek yet painfully real fashion. It is a homage, a legacy. A relevant echo from the past to be enjoyed by those who first shouted with joy at its inception.