Film review: T2 Trainspotting – marvellous sequel contemplates ageing and addiction to nostalgia
While the bare bones of the original remain, T2’s protagonists are older yet not necessarily wiser and the magnifying glass moves from the chemical generation to our present addiction to nostalgia
Following up a cultural phenomenon like Trainspotting takes guts. But director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald, the team behind the 1996 adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s jagged novel of Leith junkies, are nothing if not astute. Waiting more than two decades, allowing their characters to get older if not necessarily wiser, was a smart thing to do. As was junking the bulk of Welsh’s follow-up novel Porno, a book that seemed written with a movie in mind.
The bare bones are kept, with Renton (Ewan McGregor) returning from Amsterdam, still weighed down by the guilt of stealing money from his friends. Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) is now running a grotty pub, with a sideline in blackmail involving his Bulgarian girlfriend Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova); Spud (Ewen Bremner) is still a heroin addict; and the psychotic Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in jail.
There may be kids hovering in the background – Spud and Begbie are both fathers – but these boys haven’t matured an inch.
If the first film tapped into the chemical generation, T2 deals with our addiction to nostalgia. Teasing us with extracts from Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life and Underworld’s Born Slippy and dreamy clips from the original movie, as Renton and co reminisce, themes of ageing and looking back resonate hard. The new tracks, by Wolf Alice and Young Fathers, aren’t nearly as powerful, but how could they be? The females (Kelly Macdonald, Shirley Henderson) get short-changed too. But these are minor concerns in a marvellous sequel.
T2 Trainspotting opens on March 2
Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook