‘Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars…compact disc players and electrical tin openers.’
Choose T2 Trainspotting.
When Trainspotting first aired in 1996, (and along with it, a cult following), I was only 8 years old and was only mildly aware of its existence. One thing I knew for sure – it was out of bounds, and I was only too happy to ignore it. Until my eldest sister, (who at the time was the embodiment of 90’s pop culture), stuck a Trainspotting poster in her room and listened to the soundtrack repeatedly whilst applying her thick black eyeliner. That was it. Somehow, I had to get closer to ‘Renton’ and ‘Sick Boy’. Who were they? Why was ‘Sick Boy’ sick? All became clear at 18 when an opportunity arose to watch it. I was immediately struck by it’s transparency. It’s ability to add humour and an unapologetic ‘lust for life’ to an otherwise taboo and frowned upon subject matter, which keeps the film from becoming an altogether bleak affair. Never has a film portrayed a junkie life with such a raw, untainted and admittedly vulgar approach, yet remains fun and instantly likeable.
History repeats itself in T2 Trainspotting, and twenty years on our favourite junkies reassemble for what feels like a ‘lad’s last blast’. Except gone are the days of youth, adventure and as Spud puts it, ‘fun’. Almost immediately we’re faced with the harsh realities of a life fuelled by addiction. Spuds story is especially grueling, revealing his intentions to start a family, an idea once with so much promise, ruined by his addictions. As the film unravels, we see that all the characters have essentially stayed the same, led by hard drugs and hazy nights out. Although not as hard hitting as the first film, the drugs are still there, the taboo subjects prevail, but the characters are older and life has embittered them somewhat. T2 is less fun, more ‘lesson learned’, post 90’s drug binges. The humour is still there though, and classic Boyle direction shines through, with a touch more action and a few Guy Ritchie-esque British car battles. As far as second editions go it hits all the right notes, but don’t go expecting to re-live 90’s youth culture. Lessons are learned, and Renton’s past mistakes are self-admitted.