Simon: I’m sorry, I’m trying very hard, but I just don’t feel anything.
Renton: We are here as an act of memorial.
Simon: It’s just nostalgia! You’re a tourist in your own youth.
With the promise of a guaranteed audience, and therefore box office receipts, Hollywood has taken the step in recent years to rework their own ideas. 20 years after Trainspotting first hit our screens, T2: Trainspotting explores why nostalgia is the only hit we crave forever.
The streets of Edinburgh have changed; the high-rise housing estates gentrified into modern expectations of freshly-designed life. But what’s happened has happened, and putting up a new façade doesn’t fix the underlying problems of the town.
The same can be said for our 4 lead truants.
At the end of Danny Boyle’s 1996 original, Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton (Ewan McGregor) has taken off with £16,000 of hard-earned drug money. Since then, he’s tried to settle and failed.
The people he stole the money from – Frank “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), and Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) – have also been held back by the characters they always were.
When Renton arrives back in Edinburgh to renew his own life after a failed marriage, the chase is on for each character to give and get what they deserve.
The film is more than self-aware. It knows that the audience are wishing for the simpler times of the first film, and at the same time, acknowledges that the four lead characters are worse off in their lives by glorifying the past.
More broadly, T2: Trainspotting speaks to Hollywood’s obsession with remakes and reboots. If we seek the comfort of our childhood comic book heroes or memories of summers spent watching blockbusters, we will be stymied by a lack of creativity and challenging thought.
Ultimately our anti-heroes regress to their former selves. Like Renton stealing the drug money, first there’s an opportunity, then there’s a betrayal. In life there are no endings, just a constant journey to find out who we truly are.
T2: Trainspotting – 4/5, a must see for fans of the original.
By Tom Storey
Featured Image by Shelly Prevost