One to Watch: T2: Trainspotting

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As a critic once triumphantly proclaimed: “Hollywood come in… your time is up. Trainspotting is here and it’s toe-curlingly good.” And from what we can see from the trailer, T2 looks like it will be no exception. It’ll be nice to take a break from all the franchise films and endless rehashes that govern the market right now with something refreshingly unique and special, even if it is, ironically, a sequel. True, I and so many others have said these exact words before when discussing followups that failed to hold a candle to their predecessors (I’m looking your way Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but hey, I can dream right? Besides, where Indy 4 or Phantom Menace thought that better just meant ‘bigger’, from what little T2’s trailer reveals, Danny Boyle and co. have been smart enough to stick with what they know and what they’re good at.

Straight from the get go, it’s clear that we’re in familiar territory as Mark Renton (played once again by Ewan McGregor) delivers an updated version of his iconic ‘choose life’ monologue. It’s undeniably a retread, but instead of feeling like a filmmaker desperately trying to recapture the glory days, it’s the kind of retread that uses the same vehicle to explore new ideas. We’ve moved on from electronic can openers and matching luggage to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the hopes that “someone, somewhere cares”. John Hodge returns as scriptwriter, and from the sounds of things, he’s still got what it takes. Times and trends may have changed, but life is still as thankless as ever, and the gang’s sardonic quips will hopefully be a welcomely cynical shot in the arm…see what I did there?

Boyle’s visual flair and understanding of surreal spectacle are still intact, albeit with a much more clean and polished look. Much like Renton, Edinburgh has cleaned up its act – once a depressed slum, now a tourist city – and it will be interesting to see how the cast and crew adapt to their new surroundings. For me, part of the appeal of the original was the inherent grottiness of the city, as Renton loudly proclaims “It’s shite being Scottish!”. Will this be a story in the vein of Toy Story 3, wherein the characters must come to terms with the fact that they no longer belong in this glossy, chic world (did I seriously just compare Toy Story 3 to Trainspotting?) , or will the characters have gone with the flow, changing up their lifestyles and tastes and, most importantly, the drugs they take? The trailer shows scenes of herbs being grown and pills being packaged, but what does this have to do with our main characters? Only time will tell.

Set for a January release next year, T2:Trainspotting is without a doubt one to watch out for. And although Renton begs us to be addicted to something else, I can’t help it. While my friends wait for Star Wars Episode VIII with baited breath, I shall be waiting for the return of Spud, Begbie and Sick Boy. And may terrifying ceiling babies serenade me to sleep if my expectations are misplaced.

T2: Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle is expected to be distributed by in the UK by Sony Pictures on  January 27th 2017.

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Filmmaker, philosopher, critic (on occasion). Also writes for MUBI Notebook. It's not the side-effects of the cocaine. I'm thinking that it must be love.

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