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T2 Trainspotting review – choose a sequel that doesn’t disappoint | T2 Trainspotting | The Guardian

T2 movie review

t2 trainspotting by danny boyle is everything you could reasonably have hoped for: scary, funny, desperately sad, with lots of bold visual flourishes. What began as a zeitgeist outlaw game in unfashionable 1990s Britain is now reborn as a lurid, brutal black comedy about middle-aged male disappointment and fear of death.

brings together the horribly deceitful, skag-addicted non-heroes of the first film about 20-somethings trying to kick heroin in Edinburgh only to find they don’t have much to put in their place. in that movie, I often hid my head in my hands, unable to watch scenes about dead babies and plunging into ghastly baths. now it’s the sight of the desolate faces of the men that made me want to look away: stunned to realize that their lives are coming to an end.

Reuniting the cast of trainspotting for a new adventure 21 years later could have gone wrong. The BBC Miscalculated This Life + 10, reuniting the cast of the iconic ’90s TV drama, is a case in point. but boyle and her four musketeers give it the right frantic, jaded energy and manic anxiety. my only regret is that t2 couldn’t come to grips with the new age of #indyref and scottish national identity, so renton’s famous “shit” speech helped plant a little seed in 1996, and that the second movie didn’t give the female characters much to do, especially the excellent kelly macdonald and shirley henderson.

boyle revives some of the stylistic tics found being ripped off by gangster britflicks in the past, but now the freeze frames are shorter, sharper; the film itself harks back to the original with variant flashbacks of famous scenes, but also super 8-like footage of the boys’ heartwarming childhoods in elementary school. the meaning of the title is clarified in a way that it was not in the first film.

john hodge loosely adapted it from irvine welsh’s porn novel, which imagined them getting back together 10 years later; this of course is 20. today, in a final insult to archie gemmill’s legendary goal against the netherlands in the 1978 world cup, renton (ewan mcgregor) lives comfortably in amsterdam, a well-adjusted thoroughly modern european man with a job nice and safe. (Looks like he too forgot about gemmill in favor of george best, a bit of an obvious icon, he would have thought).

But a personal, near-menopausal crisis brings him back to an Edinburgh he barely recognizes. like in a sergio leone movie, renton has a dark need to go back, to confront the demons of his past, in particular the three guys he ripped off after a drug deal at the end of the last story.

Oddly, Renton doesn’t look much older and so does the sick boy (Jonny Lee Miller), who has traded heroin for cocaine and now runs an escort and blackmail business, secretly filming clients and extorting money from them. . , working with his business partner, Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova). But poor pope (Ewen Bremner) is emotionally scarred by a life of drug abuse. And the terrifying Begbie (Robert Carlyle) has been in jail from that day to today, with the fullest face, the messiest mustache, and the largest, blackest pupils in his eyes, like a crocodile’s. Preparing a puncture wound to be rushed to the prison hospital, Begbie plans a daring escape and is terribly excited to learn that Mark Renton is back.

renton’s big mistake is sheepishly offering a sick child his stolen share 20 years later: £4,000 in a crumpled brown envelope. “what am I supposed to buy with that?” ill boy rage bitterly later. “a time machine?” Because, of course, Renton’s betrayal is what he now enthusiastically blames everything on. that impossible and unaffordable time machine is at the center of the story. Renton’s unhappy and unwanted reappearance brings them together for one last hurrah. As with many men’s gatherings, it’s only by looking at each other’s faces that they realize how old they are.

maybe you have to have seen the first movie to like this one; feel, like the young fans of harry potter, that without knowing it or wanting it, you have grown up with its creepy protagonists. But it’s oddly moving when Renton is once again reunited with his laconic, dignified father, a welcome cameo for James Cosmo, and then returned to that childhood room that has been kept exactly as it was: a creepily well-judged touch of necrophiliac. fidelity to the past.

t2 isn’t as good as t1: it’s a bit too long, and it drifts a bit into sentimentality, broad comedy, and self-mythologizing. but it has the same forceful energy, the same defiant pessimism, and there is nothing quite like it. this sequel was a tightrope act, but boyle has made it to the other side.

  • T2 Trainspotting launches in the UK on January 27, in Australia on February 23, and in the US on March 17.

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