T2 Trainspotting – a worthy sequel

Article published on Feb. 24, 2017
Article published on Feb. 24, 2017

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Filming a sequel for a cult movie like Trainspotting is not an easy thing to do. Nostalgia aside, however, Danny boyle's latest film meets every expectation. Twenty years have passed since the first movie, allowing us to look at the characters from a different perspective.

The Trainspotting sequel was announced a few times ago but 20 years have already passed since this dark comedy about heroin addicts in Edinburgh premiered. I myself got the creeps when I first watched the 46-second trailer of the sequel. I remember thinking that it would be, as always, a way to make more money. Yet, a few months later, another trailer came out. The images and numerous references to the original movie finally convinced me to go.

Since time immemorial, we've seen too many sequels reenacting previous movies, assuming if teh audience enjoyed it the first time, they might as well enjoy it over and over again (yes, Marvel, I'm looking at you). It is true that we know and love the characters. We know what to expect and in the end, we have a great time watching those movies. But these sequels always leave a sensation of unfinished business and the spectator often feels like they've been paying twice to see the same thing.

In a way, T2 Trainspotting could cause such a sensation.There are many references to the original movie: most scenes, shots and dialogues have been integrated to create a nostalgic feeling for the first movie, 20 years ago. And yet there is something more. That little thing that makes T2 Trainspotting a good movie. Each of the references has shades and brings out the change experienced by the main characters.

The best example of this change would be the now cult Mark Renton's monologue Choose life. In Trainspotting, the narrator is a twenty-year-old man looking at ordinary people's empty and boring lives with comtempt. The kind of words you could expect from a young man injecting himself with heroin to escape normality. In T2 Trainspotting, the same monologue reappears, but adjusted to fit present time. This time, contempt originates from this society he once crticized. Renton is now a grown man, who is finally part of this boring environment. He's become a frustrated man whose life faded away and who now feels both alone and scared.

In this sequel, several similar situation appear. There are references to the original but also new characters, who evolved with time and are now put in the spotlight. Each comes back to their own story but in the  end, they are still the same group of silly junkies we've known during the late 90s.  Each one, however, has an essential part to play in this story.

Fortunately, T2 Trainspotting is not just a trip down memory lane. The context is actually very similar to that of the first movie, full of ridiculous situations, sometimes funny, sometimes moving. But it is also a fresh and new story, even though the faces on the screen look familiar. Drugs are sidelined because the characters' priorities have changed.

Another interesting aspect of T2 Trainspotting is that the director didn't back off at the last stage. The usual cuts have been made, resulting in a composition both interesting and chaotic. A lot of scenes are indeed surreal, atypical andmake this movie unique. No one can say for sure if one of them will become as cult as the scene of the dive in Scotland's worst crapper or that of the baby crawling on the ceiling, but many others will be talked about.

And don't forget the music. Despite the diversity of sounds, with interesting songs that fit the scenes perfectly, some may be disappointed by the soundtrack, which cannot compare to that of the first movie. Still, though the expectations are high, the movie can count with a complex plot and symbolic characters, which, with some unusual and surprising scenes, will be worth the price of the ticket.