Walking down to the cinema I wondered what kind of mug am I? Here I am living in Dublin, where the streets are lined with drug addicts, and I'm paying to see junkies on the big screen. As if to prove my point, I passed a gentleman smoking Class As out of an empty Coca Cola can five minutes from the theater. There's poetic symmetry there, if you look hard enough.
T2 Trainspotting begins with Renton running on a treadmill in a gym, a picture of health. It's in striking contrast to the opening scene of Trainspotting, when we were first introduced to him as the reckless youth running from trouble. We learn that he's been living in Amsterdam since absconding with the £12,000 two decades ago. He returns to Leith and reconnects with Spud and Sick Boy, who is now just Simon.
Spud's life has plodded along. He has continued to take drugs and they've taken their toll on his life. Separated from his partner and his son, the beginning of the film sees Spud in a dark place which culminates in an attempt on his own life.
Simon is stuck in a rut, or a failing pub to be precise, and has harboured hurt and anger at Renton for leaving him. He grasps at the hope that a new business venture will help him get the lifestyle he desires. His girlfriend/friend (depending which one of them you ask) is the only new addition to the main cast.
Begbie's violence caught up with him at the end of the last film and he's spent the past 20 years in prison. After a daring escape, he's unleashed on Leith once more and soon discovers that Renton's back in the picture. Parallel to this, there is focus on his relationship with son and the grating generational differences which exist within that sphere.
Other characters from Trainspotting make an appearance too. Renton's father plays a short, but touching role. Renton's mother has since passed and we learn that she never gave up hope of her son coming home. Homage is paid to her memory when Renton's shadow casts upon her space at the dining table. Diane, now a successful lawyer, also resurfaces in a scene set in her office. On her desk is a bronzed impression of a baby's hand print, so it can be assumed that she is now a mother. She doesn't wear a wedding band.
Whilst the sequel to the book, Porno, comes out in a number of scenes, the plot of T2 Trainspotting is an original screenplay. It skillfully weaves in references to the original film and retains the clever dialogue that made Trainspotting a cult classic. It's not just cinematography, it's social commentary and cultural expression. It delves into mundane reality and the struggle of those who choose neither life nor heroin. This film exists in the void in between; when youth is spent and there's nothing coming up ahead. It's captivating and soulful, and it will be the best film you see all year.