Danny Boyle's sequel to his 90s classic is everything it should be but something entirely new.
“We are here as an act of memorial.” Aging ghosts of the symbols of British youth we remember, Renton, Simon and Spud once again stand on the isolated station platform in the Leith highland. “You’re a tourist in your own youth” Simon replies, in a meta summary of T2: Trainspotting‘s sense of desperate longing for things past.
Don’t mistake this for a negative however, Danny Boyle invites us to explore the first film but never delves into self-indulgence. This is a film which looks back on its predecessor through tinted eyes but its a welcome perspective informed only by the viewpoint of its protagonists. Where many nostalgic sequels feel sad to watch, Boyle embraces the sadness and explores the act of looking back, reflecting its melancholy and existential effects with his signature dynamism.
Taking place 20 years on from the original, T2 (as if titled by the young protagonists immediately after the first’s credits rolled) follows Renton’s return to face the consequences of his betrayal. Simon is heartbroken, Begbie fresh out of prison and violently charged and Spud is, well…Spud. It is the later who gives the film its heartbeat, with Renton taking a backseat for a more objective viewpoint.
T2: Trainspotting is its own animal, a film about reflection rather than living in the moment. If Trainspotting was a refreshing pair of new trainers, T2 is about the fear of buying your first pair of slippers; somehow still injected with pace, energy and youthfulness. Though it is a frankly impossible job to better, or even match the first, Boyle’s T2 is a worthy sequel and an “act of memorial” very much welcomed. This is a film which saw an opportunity and diverts any fear of betrayal, a spirited nostalgia fueled warning of becoming a tourist in your own youth before you even realized you ever left it behind.
T2: Trainspotting (2017), directed by Danny Boyle, is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Certificate 18.