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article imageReview: T2 Trainspotting remains a class ensemble piece Special

By Tim Sandle     Jan 29, 2017 in Entertainment
London - Going back to a much-loved movie and making a sequel twenty years on could have proved a recipe for disaster, yet Danny Boyle has made a follow-up to his movie 'Trainspotting' that seamlessly connects with the original.
When Trainspotting was released in 1996, it provided a sharp social critique of middle class morality as well as a telling insight into the hopelessness of poverty and the path into drug abuse. The Danny Boyle movie was based on the best-selling novel by Irvine Welsh; the book is characterized by a raw Scots dialect and brutal depiction of Edinburgh life. The title Trainspotting is an ironic nod to how the community in which the characters live has declined (the town of Leith used to have trains running through it, now it only contains an abandoned railway yard) and it is also symbolic of the stagnant and unchanging life of the heroin addicts.
Reunited for the sequel (T2 Trainspotting, or simply T2) are the first movie's antihero Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor; the amoral Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson, portrayed by Jonny Lee Miller; Daniel "Spud" Murphy (Ewen Bremner); and the villainous, and psychotic, Francis "Franco" Begbie, an atypical role for Robert Carlyle. There are several cameos from the original and the movie is peppered with references to events that took place in the first movie, including the character Renton's 'theft' of £16,000 from the others. The original plan had been to make a sequel ten years after the original, but this could be brought off partly due to star McGregor and director Boyle falling out over the intervening years. The longer delay may have been for the best: this movie truly works. Despite McGregor being the star billing, it is Bremner's character of Spud who provides the social glue that holds events together.
The movie is loosely based on Welsh's follow-up novel to Trainspotting, called Porno, although Boyle's movie deviates from much of the plot. The first movie ends with Renton reiterating his vow to live a stable, traditional life. In the follow-up, Renton has been living in Amsterdam for the past twenty years. When things fall apart for him in The Netherlands, he returns to Scotland and attempts to gain solace by reconnecting with this family and former friends. Overcoming the initial, and not entirely unexpected, negative and somewhat violent reactions, Renton manages to find common ground with this childhood friends Spud and Sick Boy, even going so far as to put together plans for a brothel. Things fall apart when Begbie absconds from prison.
The cast re-adapt to their roles superbly. Looking older (although Los Angeles resident McGregor appears somewhat less so), the movie focuses on middle age and the urge to look back. There is a strong element of pathos as the protagonists realize the extent to which they have wasted their life. This is in the context of the past twenty years of British politics which has recurrently failed to invest in the more deprived communities, like the Edinburgh suburb of Leith. There remains an undercurrent of optimism (these are empowered characters rather than downtrodden victims) and the primary concerns, among the escapades and petty crime, are the need for friendship and reliving old memories
As well as being well acted there are plenty flashes of Boyle's distinctive direction, and there is another toe-tapping soundtrack, with older songs mixed with new tracks (such as Wolf Alice's Silk). Two sounds from the original soundtrack are revisited: Iggy Pop's Lust for Life (given a Prodigy remix), and Underworld turning Slippy into Slow Slippy.
T2 was released in the United Kingdom on 27 January 2017, and will be followed by a worldwide release on 10 February 2017.
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