Entertainment, Review

Trainspotting 2: Cast from the past

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By Benjamin Francis Cassidy

If ever a film was truly character driven, it was Danny Boyle’s 1996 Trainspotting, adapted from the book of the same name, released by Irvine Welsh in 1993. Welsh’s gritty realism gave readers the likes of Mark Renton, Sick-Boy, Diane, Spud, and, of course, the brutal horror of Francis Begbie, everyone’s favourite Sunday League Footballer, alcoholic and psychopath, all rolled into one.

The novel, written in Edinburgh dialect, quickly became a cult classic. However, it was when the film hit that the characters were truly brought to life, reaching a much wider audience than they first did in print. Their escapades, which are funny, sickening, shocking and terrifying, defined an entire generation, capturing, with equal doses of sublimely surreal and bleakly corporeal, the very essence of the hedonism and search for meaning in the postmodern era, that was the mundane reality for so many living in Britain in the mid-nineties. Ewan Mcgregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly Mcdonald, Ewen Bremner, and Robert Carlyle lit up the screens, and pooled their talents to deliver a masterpiece in cinema. Through these characters, Danny Boyle made Trainspotting talk directly to audiences over the big screen in a way that few films do. Trainspotting, and its characters were simply too big and bold to be ignored. There’s simply no way that a sequel could work without any of them; they are a unit, who seem to need and rely on each other to work. A gang. A rag tag group of anti-heroes, and, dare I say it, no matter how dysfunctional, a family of sorts, bonded by the best and worst of life. They are back.

The trailer has been a long time coming and for many is well and truly a blast from the past, like an old friend that you used to party with wildly, until growing up saw to that, forcing acceptance that it can’t last forever, with the stability of reality succeeding. From what can be seen, Renton seems to return to Edinburgh, (for reasons unknown), Sick Boy is running a pub, having never left; little is revealed about Diane’s situation, other than her and Renton briefly talk about “what if”; Spud appears as his usual only ever half-there self, and it looks as if Begbie has finally been released from prison (which must surely mean danger).

Not just for anyone of a certain age (the narrative sub-text of despair and rejection of society is there for all to see in trainspotting, along with the reasons for this occurring, which may even have more relevance now than in 1996), but for anyone who has ever seen Trainspotting, there is a shared feeling of anxiety that always comes before a reunion. Of course the question everyone has is, will it work? That seems to apply to the characters’ feelings towards one other, having been apart all that time, as much as to audiences. Perhaps this awkwardness will be pivotal in what ensues. The only things safe to say, is that with this lot together again, nothing and nobody are guaranteed to stay safe; after all, where would be the fun in that?

Trainspotting 2 hits cinemas nationwide on the 27th January 2017.

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Benjamin Francis Cassidy

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