This week on Film Talk, we’re talking Trainspotting 2. That’s right, the Scottish, heroin, crime filled drama full of dark comedy. This film is the highly anticipated sequel to Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting.
I’ll be honest and say I had never seen Trainspotting until last week. I saw the trailer for the sequel, thought it looked good and decided to check out the first one. Well. I was blown away! I absolutely loved it and I can now see why it has such a cult following.
If you haven’t seen Trainspotting yet I’ll give you a little run down of the story.
Trainspotting is narrated by Ewen McGregor’s character Renton. The film is essentially about the Edinburgh drug scene and follows Renton trying to clean up and get out of that life despite all the influence from his friends. His friends Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) are both Heroin addicts while his other friends Tommy (Kevin McKidd) and Bigby (Robert Carlyle) are not. However, Tommy is addicted to fitness (until he falls for the peer pressure and tries heroin becoming the worst addict of them all. Essentially he was an addict and just swapped one addiction for another). And Bigby, well… He’s addicted to fighting. He’s rough as guts and rather psychotic. This film is gritty, witty and punches you in the face with the hard reality of addiction and the lengths people will go to for their addiction. The film finishes with Renton, drug free and $16,000 richer after essentially ripping his friends off.
This is where Trainspotting 2 comes in…. 20 years later. Renton’s happily-ever-after turns out not so happy as he is getting a divorce and he finds himself drawn back home to Edinburgh to visit home, Sickboy and Spud. Not Tommy, as he overdosed in Trainspotting and certainly not Bigby as he would slaughter him on the spot after running off with the $16,000. (Side note: Robert Carlisle does such a fantastic job at playing a complete psycho!)
We see poor Spud is still addicted to Heroin and is a bit child-like from all the drug use, Sick Boy goes by the name Simon and is addicted to Cocaine but is making a living for himself using his ‘girlfriend’ in….. interesting….. ways and blackmailing rich men and Bigby is in jail, which is not that surprising.
Sickboy is not too pleased to see Renton at first but soon drags Renton back into the old ways of stealing and getting into trouble. As an audience we can’t help but think ‘Noooo! You got out of that life, what are you doing?!’ But honestly, it just feels right. Like Renton belongs there in Edinburgh with his friends. Do you agree?
The whole feeling of this film is nostalgia. It’s interesting because not only are we, the audience, feeling a lot of nostalgia but so are the characters. The concept is that most people look forward and to the future but these friends are stuck in the past. They continue looking to the past and it almost seems like they wish they could go back 20 years and be there again.
Which brings up an interesting point, a point that mirrors real life. When life gets you down or things aren’t going the way you hope, we – generally speaking – look to the past. To happier times, to what we know. You often see people who have been away from home for years or have escaped where they came from either turning back to old habits or going back to the very place they were trying to escape from. In this case, this is ART imitating LIFE.
This sequel is brilliant in it’s own right and I feel Danny Boyle has successfully and beautifully created the feel of what Trainspotting is. Not only does the film use all the original cast but it’s also filmed in the same places, uses the same cinematography techniques and music, integrates flashbacks to the first film and the actors even recreate some certain expressions and actions which all just works seamlessly together to create the whole ‘vibe’ that is so unique to Trainspotting. The movie is filmed in such a unique way that everyone who knows Trainspotting can spot – ha, get it? – it from a mile away. There are long sequences of intense music where the scenes merge one into the other, sometimes seemingly erratically, but that all adds to the feel of the film.
Both the first Trainspotting and this one are like a roller coaster ride. One minute you’re laughing the next you’re shaking you’re head in disgust and then you’re laughing again. If you haven’t seen this film or the first I highly recommend you do. I understand these types of films don’t always appeal to people. If you are someone who thinks ‘oh I wouldn’t be into to that’, try to look past the on-the-surface face of the film and dig deeper. See the big picture, appreciate the music and cinematography and you might surprise yourself and discover a new taste in movies.
Lets start a discussion on Trainspotting 2. What are your thoughts and opinions? Have I missed anything? Do you have a different opinion? I would love to hear about them in the comments!