Trainspotting the movie was screened in 1996. Twenty-odd years later, in 2017, T2 Trainspotting was released starring the same character actors Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner and Johnny Lee Miller. The story in this second film is a true sequel, set realistically 20 years after the first one. It explains why Renton (Ewan McGregor) ran off with the money he did all those years ago, depicts Simon’s (Johnny Lee Miller) and Begbie’s (Robert Carlyle) reactions to that event and to Renton’s return to Edinburgh, and how the comical-looking Spud (Ewen Bremner) comes to write ‘wee stories’ that evolve into the book Trainspotting (written by Irvine Welsh). Important themes in the first story are flagged in the second, many giving plausible reasons for why the characters turn out the way they do; things such as the scene with Begbie’s drunken father, and character deaths (baby Dawn and Tommy) in the first story. In this regard the sequel is clever and very satisfying. It ties up loose ends in a neat conclusion.
The present-day story in the sequel is also believable, depicting the characters speaking in Scottish accents and experiencing some of the same old struggles with politics, money, crime, drugs, environment and relationships, albeit in a changed Scotland. I read the book Trainspotting last year and struggled through the Scottish dialect and stream-of-consciousness-type writing. But this style, combined with a mix of hilarity and serious issues, made for a compelling story, and the style is well-replicated in T2 Trainspotting. True to the book, the characters’ vocabulary in this film is swimming in expletives – but only at the beginning. The opening lines are used to set the scene and then the swearing thins out, making for more palatable viewing.
I did find the reliance on the past in T2 Trainspotting a bit irritating and got bored with the ‘good ol’ days’ theme. The film is not a standalone and viewers would need to know the original story to fully appreciate the second. The film is entertaining, though, and is very well acted.
T2 Trainspotting opens at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 24 February 2017.