Heroin Is So Passe – ★★★★
When reading the novel “Junkie” by William S. Burroughs you may find yourself thinking heroin doesn’t seem that bad. The same may have been thought of Trainspotting, four lads in their twenties having a laugh sleeping around in the prime of their life and then the baby died. Now it’s twenty years later the baby’s still dead and the lads are wondering where their lives have gone.
Renton (Ewan McGregor) has come back to Edinburgh to catch up with his past and perhaps make amends. He calls first to his father to hear about his mother’s last days and we see the subtle call backs to the first film. Same kitchen table, same frame set up but not same old Renton. He’s changed, gotten his life together, embraced his addict tendencies and channeled them into running. We meet Spud (Ewen Bremner) and hear of his failed abilities to stay on the straight and narrow. Renton’s reappearance is a life-line for Spud and may be what he needed to turn things around. Sickboy (Jonny Lee Miller) is pulling an extortion racket with his girlfriend Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) that is becoming far to dangerous and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) of course is in prison.
There is by no means the same level of bleakness in T2 that we saw in the first Trainspotting chiefly because they’re not all a bunch of skag heads. What we have is a more ponderous melancholy, a pining for past glories when the future seemed so far away and filled with endless opportunities. Much more exciting than the harsh reality of zero funds, expanding waistlines and loneliness. The film tackles this head on and knows exactly what it is: a tourist in it’s own youth.
The film is very funny with gross-out humour and comic setpieces. Excellent chemistry between the four leads make it as much a film about bromances as anything else with the camaraderie between Renton and Sickboy something to revel in. It embraces its roots, mashing scenes from T1 with the present day in a somewhat virtual postcard from the past.
I was 11 when Trainspotting came out and didn’t see it until I was probably fifteen or so yet somehow felt a wave of nostalgia when T2 was announced. Again I am some 14 years off the age of our four protagonists but still am able to sympathise and celebrate their current predicaments. Surely the sign of a film worth your fare.
Opens Friday the 27th of January 2017