T2 Trainspotting is not an experimental feature-length music video. Sure does seem like it though sometimes, like there ain’t enough here so they put in more music and more. It’s not a boring movie by any means, anything with Danny Boyle and Anthony Dod Mantle behind the camera is always going to be have something going on at any moment. Scratch past the surface sheen, all the drive and propulsion goes away. The whole film power by the battered engine of a movie two decades old.
Which is the case because the first movie is all that this one has on its mind. That’s not to rag on Trainspotting, though it has been a few years since I last saw it, it’s a great movie as I recall. But there’s no sense of evolution here, all the characters seem stuck, and they have to be because we want them to despite the time difference. So we left with this situation where the most important thing in all these characters’ lives was the events of that one weekend twenty years ago. That is seemingly all that defines them
And like, cool, I get it, grudges last, people can be irrational but there’s no sense of a life lived. Renton turns up having spent time abroad, Begby gets out of prison, Spud and Sick Boy have spent their time shitting around in Leith with no real change to their underlying condition. It just don’t feel true, which might be excusable if they weren’t so deified. The characters, all of them, aren’t allowed to be human no more, they have to be the perfect paradigms of everything they have come to represent. Which is disappointing cos they ain’t them anymore, or more them than they should be, if you get me?
It tries, but like a anvil, the weight of mythology keep dragging it down. That’s what the first film is by this point, so prologue it’s myth. Characters reminisce and we flash back: sometimes we see scenes recreated; sometimes we get footage edited in from the original; sometimes shots, setups, framings, lighting creates echoes from a distantly remembered time. It’s so much and at times so blindingly inappropriate that you don’t really know what the film is trying to mean.
It’s a frustrating film. The plot involves Renton coming back from his time in Europe and meeting back up with his friends for the first time after stealing all that stolen money from them. He then gets involved in their personal drama, the main brunt being Sick Boy trying to find some startup money for a brothel he wants to build for his girlfriend. Begby wants revenge and so everyone got an opinion on that. Spud’s also there, trying to kick the habit and be around. This all continues for a matter until it reaches an end which brings them all together. It’s okay, I guess, serviceable, in the original there’s a fucking dead baby. I think people forget that, this film even brings it up, doesn’t feel like it most of the time though.
It’s got a sentimentality to it. Not a bad thing, but I don’t think it realises how saccharine it’s being. It’s, in its stylistic and filmic devices often uncompromisingly hostile. Not to the point of unwatchability, but to the point of statement. There’s no statement here worthy of all the fuss. Just music. Oh so much music.