Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Movie Review: Trainspotting 2

Trainspotting 2:  Four Stars

On hearing that there was going to be a Trainspotting 2, my first question to myself was "How the hell are the characters all still alive to make a movie?"

See, I was living in London when the first iteration of Trainspotting came out. I remember reading the book on a train bound for Brighton and nearly throwing up at the 'Worst Toilet in Scotland" scene. Having a good friend from Aberdeen, I somewhat got the accent."Trainspotting" is a part of my twenties.

Now in my forties, T2: Trainspotting has come out - and it's going to be a part of my life for ever more. I enjoyed it. My friend, who's 15 years younger than me and never really got the first one, enjoyed it too.

Catching this film late on a Friday night, I made the decision to watch the first film before seeing the movie. My friend wasn't going to get to mine until late, why not.

I'm glad I took a new look at the first one before seeing the second. Looking at Trainspotting and its new incarnation, as well as living in the heroin centre of Melbourne, I got to see these films in a very different light.

I do think that you probably need half a knowledge about the first film to get the best out if it. Knowing the characters as there former selves makes this film far easier to understand, although there are a lot of flashbacks which help viewers get the point.

The movie picks up 20-odd years after Mark 'Rent-Boy' Renton is seen walking across London Bridge with a bag full of money into a potentially drug free unknown.

Essentially. T2 shows you what has happened to the crew. Renton (Ewan McGregor) has been living in Amsterdam, married and drug free. Simon "Sick-boy" (Jonny Lee Millar) is running his aunt's old pub in a run down part of town. Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle), not surprisingly, is in prison. And then there's Spud (Ewan Bremner). I'll get back to him. Oh yes, and of course, Tommy (Kevin McKidd) didn't come back either, but he died in the first movie from toxoplasmosis.

The plot, which is a little thin on the ground, takes up when Renton comes back to Edinburgh on the death of his mother. He has not been back in this time. He's not been in contact with his hapless friends who he left cashless and sleeping in a hotel room all those years ago.

And all hell breaks loose. What follows is a very entertaining two hours of a caper movie which reminisces about friendships lost and found and just how your choices can impact upon your world at large.

There are a lot of laugh out loud moments along with quite a few gross out moments  - for how could the writers not go for another few toilet scenes. There's also some very identifiable moments of middle age, because ostensibly, this is a film about middle aged men. They're not putting any gloss on that, thank goodness.

For me, the film was made by Ewan Bremner's brilliant performance as Spud. In the first film, he was the loser mate, not good for much at all, a bit of a non-entity compared to the exuberance of Sick-Boy, Renton's witty repartee and Begbie's barely contained violence. Now, in his mid-forties, still addicted to heroin, unemployed, miserable and just plain sad, Bremner's nuanced performance is captivating. During the two hours of the movie, we watch as he tries to clean up his life. It's as poignant as it is harrowing. I'd like to see the film again for this performance alone.

This film won't be everybody's hit of smack. The humour is black and vicious. The script tight and funny (particularly the new take on the 'Choose Life" speech". The soundtrack is not far from the brilliance of the first film (Iggy Pop still features - and surprisingly, he's still alive too)

It was great to see cameos by Kelly McDonald and Shirley Henderson. The gross out moments are pretty gross - and there are some very funny, very unexpected scenes that show Scottish live at its best and worst.

I loved it, but I know I am biased.

And this has to come too:

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