*Minor spoilers ahead… no major spoilers until my next warning!*
I’m known for finding a way to enjoy – or at least appreciate – basically any film. Occasionally though, one comes along that sticks with me, and I become obsessed. I doubt I’m alone when I say Danny Boyle’s cult classic, Trainspotting, was one of those films for me. Many of us have seen it more than once and have the soundtrack ready to go in a Spotify playlist.
I was worried about T2: Trainspotting, not because I thought it would be bad, but because I know how many hurdles a sequel usually has to overcome to be given anywhere near as much respect as the original. Like myself, a lot of people have apparently ignored this worry though as T2 is holding its own in the UK box office charts so far. I watched the film, and I loved it, so I decided to compile a list of six reasons exactly why I think it should be loved.
1) Mirror imaging
Images courtesy of moodledukhan.net and houseofgeekery.com
No sequel would be complete without some sort of homage to the original, and T2 has that in the bucket-load. Some obvious sequences include actual footage from Trainspotting, and the end shot (I won’t spoil anything for you) is particularly powerful in its use of old footage. Children were also used as mini-me versions of the gang in some very pivotal moments in the film, looking back even further to before the events of the first film.
In other cases, shots are framed similarly to those in the original to mirror themselves. Renton sits down at the table with his father to talk about the death of his mother, and his shadow fills the space where hers once had been. It’s a powerful but quiet moment of appreciation for the time that has come between where these two films take place, and T2 is littered with powerful moments like this.
2) Not an imitation game
Image courtesy of thesun.co.uk
Possibly the best thing about this film, strangely, is that it’s not trying to be Trainspotting. It’s less about youth, drug addiction, and controversy, and more about escaping your demons and coming to terms with mistakes, change, and adulthood. That’s not to say the film isn’t filled with nudity, drug abuse, and bodily fluids… it’s still a Trainspotting film after all. For me, T2 was much more emotionally gripping than the first and sometimes this content adds to that (*cough, Renton, Spud, and that plastic bag).
Maybe T2 made me care more because it had original material to follow. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown attached to the characters. Maybe it’s because I watched it in the cinema. Either way, I shed a tear a few times.
3) Classic characters, new levels
Image courtesy of fanpop.com
As well as being a gloriously quirky and controversial film, Trainspotting became so re-watchable because of its characters and the way they interact. Trainspotting is often referred to as a film about heroin addiction, but in actuality ‘it’s a film about a group of friends.’ The gang is back – minus Tommy – and the time that has passed has developed them a lot. A few of the quirks of their personalities have been deeper levels; Begbie’s closeted sexuality and pent up aggression was especially interesting to see developed. Each member of the group is wildly different to the rest and yet they share overlapping loyalties and dishonesties with one another that make them so real. I found myself drawn in to each and every interaction between them from beginning to end.
The characters that didn’t make it to the sequel also have an impact. The less-present female characters seem to have a hold over the men off-screen. You get the sense that many of their struggles come from their want to please and be with the women in their lives, not to mention their shared guilt over other missing faces, namely Tommy and Dawn. T2 is very much about masculinity and ageing, and it sheds a whole new light on the original interpretations of its characters.
4) Scope of Colour
Images courtesy of dailymail.co.uk and sheknows.com
As with the original, T2 uses light and colour in a very stylistic but none-intrusive way. Bright green fills Sickboy’s bar, neon blue shines over the nightclub toilets, George Best is projected onto the group’s car, not to mention the scene with all those mirrored tiles– it’s as though each scene is filled with a new colour and yet it goes so well with the films style that it just works.
The iconic blood-red backdrop of Mother Superior’s flat goes hand in hand with Trainspotting, and so it makes sense that light and colour play such an important role in T2.
5) Music to your ears
Image courtesy of odeon.co.uk
Trainspotting’s colour and sound have always come together to create that euphoric other-worldliness that we know and love, and this happens in T2 too. Others have argued that the soundtrack isn’t as punchy as the first, but – although they’re half right – I think it is perfectly suited to the film. It’s very Trainspotting to hear, and then some songs are not, but that’s sort of the whole point. The prodigy remix of Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’ was a perfect combination of new and old sound, and was a much better choice to simply re-using the original song.
*Spoilers ahead… you should probably watch the film before you read further!*
Wolf Alice managed to bring together all the emotion that had culminated throughout the film in the final montage and I felt my heart swell with the music when Gail suggests that she’s decided a name for Spud’s novel. T2’s nostalgic look-back vibes wouldn’t be complete without some old but gold sound, and I don’t think anything could have paired Renton and Begbie’s first meeting better than Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax Don’t Do It’ – almost too fitting, really.
6) The Ending
Gif courtesy of wix.com
For me, T2 adds to and actually improves the original film. It adds a depth to Trainspotting when you’re told where the characters end up 20 years after Renton’s betrayal. It made me want to immediately watch Trainspotting again followed by T2, just for nostalgia’s sake. I’ll admit, I began T2 half looking for things to dislike about it in the hopes of giving a well-rounded review. As soon as the characters began to interact, the music played, the colours shone, the wonderfully weird cinematic style pulled me in and I cared more than I ever have for their group. I felt like I’d never wanted anything more than I wanted Spud to get clean, Sick Boy and Renton to be friends again, and Begbe to fail at his murder-mission.
When everything was said and done, the powerful closing sequence captured the idea of the whole film for me. The remix of Iggy Pop’s classic paired perfectly with the overlapping of young and old Renton, but this time he doesn’t fall to the ground. He dances, and we leave him in peace. He’s ended the film in a somewhat similarly bleak, but better place than where he began – back at home, back with his friends – and everything just feels right, even if it’s probably not.
Do you have any films (new or old) that you’d like me to review? Let me know @netflixkill and I’ll get reviewing!