Leon Syla on T2: Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 2017)

Choose reading this review. Following the success of the 1996 Trainspotting, Danny Boyle chose to direct a sequel based on Irvine Welsh’s Porno. After decades of planning and rewrites, T2 Trainspotting was finally released in 2017. Rather than simply recreating the aesthetic and conventions of the first film, the sequel provides a fresh and contemporary take on the beloved characters, without tarnishing the legacy of the original. T2 Trainspotting sees Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie return once again to the silver screen after they have created new lives for themselves following the fallout of the first film. Following a heart attack in Amsterdam, a divorce, and imminent redundancy, Renton moves back to his hometown of Edinburgh to visit his old friends. With each character, we see how time and anger have ravaged them, and how they attempt to fit in with the ‘new’ age, a pressing theme of the first film. By contrasting the old with the new, Boyle creates a relatable yet unfamiliar world that the characters inhabit. Boyle expertly explores how time has affected the characters through various narrative and editing techniques. Despite time moving forward and the constant sense of urgency through the film, the four men desperately try to cling to the past by committing crimes and re-enacting situations from the first film, in an attempt to relive their youth. In one scene, Renton and Sick Boy steal bank cards from everyone in a bar, and while this is done through a quick montage to The Prodigy’s remix of ‘Lust for Life’, the two hark back to their memories as children, using the past to slow down time and recapture their childhood. In another attempt to preserve time, Boyle also employs multiple freeze frames to immortalise certain moments, as well as have the audience focus on these parts. Boyle also guides the audience through the ‘new’ world that the men must become familiar with, given their distance from it. As the audience sees the four attempt to re-inhabit their old world, he expertly uses mirroring and clever shadow play to hark back to iconic moments from the original film, signalling that the past will always be there. What made Trainspotting so memorable when it first came out was its amazing soundtrack, and the sequel’s soundtrack holds up just as well. Linking back to the concept of time, T2 Trainspotting features old and new songs, as well as songs that have been remade or remixed to highlight the new era and sound of today. As mentioned earlier, The Prodigy remixed ‘Lust for Life’, providing a fresh take on an old classic and Underworld created ‘Slow Slippy’ specifically for the film, to show the progression of music, while still retaining the elements of the past. T2 Trainspotting manages to uphold the legacy of the original and craft a new legacy for its sequel by not only honouring what came before, but by using the past to create new criticisms and interpretations for the contemporary world.


Leon Syla

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