This week the movie gods smiled down on us cinephiles and gifted us with not one, but two theatrical releases that feature a show-stopping Ewan McGregor musical number. Coincidentally, too, almost all of this week’s releases also have something to say about nostalgia and our unconscious yearning for the past. As someone with zero hankering for a follow-up to the hugely successful 1996 film, Trainspotting (although, admittedly, in 2003 I did pre-order the source material’s sequel, Irvine Welsh’s Porno, out of sheer curiosity), I found its long awaited sequel to be a cinematic adrenaline rush that pulsed through me long after it was over.
It’s been twenty years and the junkies of the original film (all but poor Spud and dearly departed Tommy) have replaced the highs of heroin with quick hits of blackmail, breaking and entering, and pick-pocketing. Since Renton (McGregor) ran off with the drug deal money all those years ago, he’s been lying low in Amsterdam, trading in drugs for cardio, and his best mates for a failed marriage. When his mother’s death brings him back to Edinburgh, it’s not long before he’s in contact with the still vengeful Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), suicidal Spud (Ewen Bremner), and newly escaped from jail Begbie (Robert Carlyle).
With a knowing understanding of their audience, returning director Danny Boyle (who hasn’t injected this much energy into a film since Slumdog Millionaire) and screenwriter John Hodge give loving fan service by slowly sprinkling in visual and musical nods to the original film, all the while providing a fresh take on the aging characters. The filthy toilets, running into a halted car and then stopping to smile with glee, dancing with sheer abandon, the ‘Choose Life’ ironic speech, even old flame Kelly Macdonald – all make brief appearances. By the time the opening familiar strains of Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life played, the audience I saw the film with was fully hooting and clapping along. Choose T2 Trainspotting for a hell of a good time at the movies.