Ahh Edinburgh, what a wonderful city to live in. It’s beauty is rarely captured on screen, (unless of course you scroll Instagram with the hashtag #Edinburgh), so it’s great to see it feature in Danny Boyle’s T2, the long awaited sequel to the iconic, Trainspotting.
I watched it at the Cameo cinema, surrounded by the most mixed age range audience I’ve ever seen in a movie before now. Also, I might add, the noisiest. As the credits rolled, the audience applauded with anticipation and excitement. You could almost hear the ghosts of 90’s Renton, Sickboy, Spud and Begbie, shout ‘Ye beauty!’, as 2016 Renton appeared on screen. Or, that may have been the guy three rows ahead. Probably was.
Trainspotting is without a doubt an iconic film, whether or not it deserves the title. Most fans, I believe, remember Trainspotting as a separate entity, in some kind of misty eyed reminiscent way, and not the actual mechanics of the movie. My bf says the remember the poster, more than the film. They forget the dark humour, the drug lust, the sad death of a baby and Tommy, and the scumbag characters portraying Edinburgh at its worst, and instead have given it cult status for years. University dorms are awash with ‘Choose life’ and, I suspect, one or two students chose Edinburgh as the city of choice to study in the hope they’d be hanging out with these types of fellows. The Trainspotting that we remember is cool, fresh, daring, and it was gritty. It made being young cool, it made drugs cool, it made Edinburgh cool, and we chose life, we chose the posters, the CD’s, the DVD’s and put them in our collections so everyone knew WE were cool.
But here we are, 20 years later, warts, (addiction/impotence/heart defects) and all, T2, shows us the glare of real life, and how the chancers of the past have fared.
How to review it without giving a spoiler?
I can’t. So if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know, stick your fingers in your ears right about know. Or, rather, your eyes. Don’t read on.
Or, this podcast that I did with The Nerd Party, don’t listen to this, unless you want spoilers.
Without a doubt you have to go and see it, if only to be able to claim you’ve seen it, because I wouldn’t want to be you if you haven’t. I wouldn’t want to live in Edinburgh without seeing it, and have to spend the next few months at parties where the talk is eventually going to come round to it. It’s become such a part of Edinburgh life already, with friends, family and everyone seeing filming taking place, working as crew, walking past Ewan McGregor, Ewan Bremner, Robert Carlyle or Jonny Lee Miller in Starbucks/the Apple Store/Stewart Christie/Nandos/Cineworld/HarveyNicks/or wherever. There is so much affection for it here. And rightly so.
A few days later, I’m still thinking about it. Still mulling it over. But not the mechanics of the film, that’s all in the podcast, more thinking on what T2 means to a generation. My son, (17) only saw the original recently, and thought it was great. He’s since seen T2 and thought it was great too. But he doesn’t have that attachment, the way we might play an Oasis album and reminisce over ‘Champagne Supernova’ or ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, because it doesn’t mean the same to him as it did to us.
Although, of course, we’re not allowed to stake a claim to the film. It means lots of things to lots of people, isn’t that the beauty of it? As someone who grew up in London, it might seem I have even less right to try and claim it as a film of my generation.
I first read Trainspotting in Japan. It screwed with my head, mainly because I was talking pigeon English every day and reading Scottish text at night. But, this was the first book I’d picked up that spoke to me, I identified with it. The writing was fresh, new, and I looked forward to reading more Irvine Welsh afterwards. He was funny, he was vulgar, he was honest. Aside from not living here in Scotland, or knowing anyone who took heroin, this was similar to my life, back home in London. This was the fresh voice of youth, the disillusion of what we might become, away from politics, the gaps in society, this is who we were. Those characters, heroin aside, (I feel like I need to push that on you, different drugs for different types) were my brothers, chums. We hung out in furniture absent flats, we dreamed up scams, we ran the streets, we shared the last cigarette between 5, and we thought we were cool. We probably were.
Now, 20 years later, these are the types of people we are. Well, kinda. Between my brothers and chums, there’s been spells in Jail, rehab, running from dealers, moving away from home, coming back home, building families, losing families, breaking ties, mending bridges. All the things we see on the screen, we see IRL. All of those stereotypes, are right there in front of us. T2 is bang on as a sequel to this iconic time.
Me? I’m the Renton who didn’t screw over her friends, didn’t move to Amsterdam, but instead chose life. Still choosing life. Happy days.