Hm, hubby like really really wanted to watch it, me was more like Pff … Let’s see how T2 turned out for both of us, shall we?
First there was an opportunity……then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.
I wasn’t expecting much from T2. Really, what were they trying to achieve here, in 2017 when there are sequels and prequels produced for every little shitfilm available. The thing with the original Trainspotting from 1996 was that it was original, that it was a cheap little film with a good message and chokful of new talents and filmed with a certain ugly finesse. I mean who doesn’t fondly remember the toilet diving scene … and the baby on the ceiling? That was exciting drama made into exciting cinema!
What has changed in the last 20 years? The characters of course. They are not 17 anymore, so it’s hopeless to have them live through the same old drug-induced drama. And fortunately T2 doesn’t try to force this experience onto them and us, the audience. But what story, apart from their reintroduction can they tell us now? Not much as it turns out. And this is the main problem with T2: It doesn’t has a story to tell us.
Not that T2 isn’t nice to watch. The DP gives us some astonishingly beautiful shots, outside scenes are sundrenched, the colours are vividly popping, it’s all so wrong for a movie like Trainspotting. This ain’t an ad campaign for life insurance or something ffs.
The cast bumbles thru the movie in the same way we are watching it: They dunno what to do and what their purpose is. The only cast member who seems to have found a “real” life and a purpose is Kelly Macdonald‘s Diane, who’s a lawyer these days and appears in a short cameo. And that scene is exactly what I didn’t like at T2: It’s purely show-off, it’s nostalgia, it’s made for the audience to see what became of the cast, how they look now and where they are in life. The rest, the guys apart from Diane, is just a bunch of middle-aged men with ruined lifes but no energy to turn the ship – or the film – around.
And the movie in itself follows the same pathetic way. Not that it was boring, the 117 minutes runtime went by without any lengths but also without any heights or a climax or any discernable story arc in any way. The whole thing appeared more like a snapshot of the cast’s life 20 years later. This surely has its own fascination but not quite enough to make a worthwhile film.
For me it becomes clear in scenes when our friends visit places they’ve been to in the first rendition of Trainspotting. They have no clue why the fuck they are supposed to be there. It all becomes hollow and shallow. Ok, that’s cool as it shows the flatness of the characters but it doesn’t make a good film.
Another point neither hubby nor me liked was the rehash of Renton’s famous “Choose Life” list. What was cool and sarcastic as a movie opener in 1996 and found a suprising solution in “I choose something else …”, becomes a bitter, dark and hateful tirade in 2017. Maybe it’s sign o the times but it was disturbing. Hubby and me looked at each other with blank stares after Ewan McGregor finished his fireworks. What had served in 1996 just to describe the difference between normal society and junkies becomes political hate speech in the context of 2017. And this time around theres not even a conclusion to his list but just angry exhaustion.
But, this got to be said, if you’ve never heard of Trainspotting before, didn’t watch the raw, visceral original movie or read Irvine Welsh’s powerful novel, you won’t get T2. At all. T2 exclusively works as a companion piece, as the complimentary T-Shirt to the original Trainspotting cinematic experience.
CONCLUSION: T2 is like going with the cast and crew of Trainspotting on a trip down memory lane, a purely nostalgic thing. It fails to give us any insight into their lifes, into their personal development … and the worst thing is we don’t even wanna know. The producers could’ve wiped out the whole cast in a shootout right in the first few minutes, it would’ve had the same non-effect on us.
Who else than fellow Brit (ouch, careful now, Orca: Are Scots even British?) Mark Kermode to review T2 …