Twenty years ago director, Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs), and writer, John Hodge (Trance), gave the world Trainspotting as their second outing on the big screen. It became an uncomfortable classic of the culture and its characters were left with various questionable futures at the end. Embracing that gap in time, T2 Trainspotting begins 20 years later, allowing the actors and characters to grow older, if not wiser.
Now, it has been a very long time since I saw the first movie, but, in a way, it was a good approach to watch the sequel. T2 is a tale of nostalgia, of people who are so fettered to the past they have yet to move forward. My imperfect memory got to follow along with their own and recall and rethink where these people had come from and what was important to them and what they really deserved.
But you do need to have seen the first movie to appreciate the second. Without that base understanding, far too much of the story makes no sense. The resulting sequel is a repeated reflection, by design, of the first film. But another view is that it is simply a tale of regular blokes who never got their shit together and have to live with that somehow; not nearly as satisfying.
Getting the cast back together was a real coup for Boyle. Ewan McGregor (August: Osage County), Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman), Jonny Lee Miller (Byzantium), and Robert Carlyle (Stargate Universe). But he also got the two key women, Shirley Henderson (Okja) and Kelly Macdonald (Anna Karenina). And the women, though in small roles, are key, along with one addition.
The relatively unknown Anjela Nedyalkova is the newest element in this story of friends. She brings an outside view and influence, not to mention variables, to the outcome. Like most steady-state situations, it takes a catalyst or some other additive to disrupt the situation and allow it to evolve and change. And if there is one relatively clear message in these tales as a whole, it is that the women fare better than the men, ultimately able to change and grow where there male counterparts were unable.
On its own, this isn’t a great movie. Certainly it didn’t tap into the same kind of zeitgeist that the original did. However, as part of a pair, it is really interesting story-telling and a rare chance to see characters over a long period growing up believably. Also, you have to love the cheek of the title…which leads nicely into the cheek of the whole movie.