As a big, huge fan of the first movie I became extremely excited when I got to know that Danny Boyle was making a new Trainspotting film. Exactly 20 years later, what a great, fabulous idea. So I waited patiently for the release, which happened this week.
Before going to the big screen I decided to re‒watch the old motion picture. I have to say, it was a long time since and I enjoyed like a little girl every single scene. Also, it was the first time I watched it in original version, so I was able to discover what a great ambiance the deep Scottish accent creates. I think it suits perfectly the story and the aesthetics. It also creates the necessity to be extremely concentrated and to listen carefully, which transforms the spectator into a member of the gang, eyewitness of the madness all of them experience.
Anyways, so I went to the cinema with great expectations. After all, Danny Boyle is responsible for beauties such as A Life Less Ordinary or 28 days later. I was imagining an original film, with his unique vision, his personal way of telling things and stories... but I was wrong.
In my opinion, the aesthetic of the first movie is completely ignored in T2. Trainspotting had a chaotic, pulsing storyline, understandable yet beautifully messy. I doubt that many spectators could relate to the characters or the events. However, the fast rhythm, the soundtrack, the clothing and the photography made possible to be a part of it. Instead of this, this sequel tries to sell us a many‒times‒seen screenplay, where the narration is not about the characters or the facts happening on screen but about the reminiscences of the first picture, cheap douchey speeches about modern society and nonsense interventions that give nothing to the scene, the movie or the franchise (Veronica's whole character for example, or the part of Diane).
Hell, not even the characters look the same. Mark Renton is represented as a pushover pussy, not as the naughty, delightfully sinful thinker that we know. Spud is basically a cartoon character and Begbie has gone so soft that it looks like he converted to buddhism. Only Sick Boy remains the same. Now, some one could argue that people change, that they are different because they have grown up... well I disagree, I believe this could have been a very interesting angle but they clearly overdid it. I don't think it's cool that the very essence of a character dissolves and goes up in smoke. And, what about the hallucinatory dreams we enjoyed so much in the first movie? Well, even those look faker (with few exceptions like Spud's suicide attempt).
I think one of the many problems is the main topic of the movie: betrayal. While this was only present at the end of the first film, the plot of T2 is obsessed with it. Now don't get me wrong, betrayal was an obvious topic of conversation regarding the come back of Mark Renton to Edinburg. However, I don't think that is what the Trainspotting universe is all about. The Trainspotting universe is about life and how strange and confusing it can be, is about the rush and the thrill of dangerous situations, about the choice between the confort of control and the freedom of powerlessness. Maybe T2 tried, but I definitely think it failed to capture it.
Personally I consider that one of the most beautiful things about Trainspotting was that there were some facts that remained quite unclear or, maybe clear, but in a poetical, artistic way. I hate movies that give you every single detail and information and you don't have to guess or think at all. T2 insists in destroying this too. I will explain it with an example. In the first picture, the spectator suspects that Sick Boy is in fact the father of the dead baby. The reason of this suspicion is audiovisual (his reaction to the death, Renton's voice‒over...). I don't think we need to hear the sentence "you were the father of the baby" to understand that. Well this happens the whole 1h57m of T2 (Tommy's first heroin use, Spud's money...). I have thought a lot about it, and I arrived to the conclusion that all these explanations are to inform the people that haven't seen Trainspotting. Still, unnecessary. Catastrophic even.
I think it's obvious I really didn't like this movie, and maybe I'm being to mean about it, but on top of all this there's the absolute lack of realism of the plot. I had a very good screenwriting teacher that told me once: "The beauty of cinema is that you can do whatever you want, you establish the rules. However, once you have establish them, you cannot ignore them". Well, this is the context of T2 : now, in our society, in Scotland, regarding the 4 friends we knew in Trainspotting... It's a normal scenario, seen, common, not difficult. Well then, why are Danny Boyle and John Hodge creating unrealistic situations like a 50 year old injured man that just came out of jail running as fast as a younger jogger or a negligent police that is not able to find an escaped convict that is sleeping in his own house? The answer to this, or the answer to why they have transform a beautiful piece of art into regular commercial bullshit, I don't have. And I think I never will.