Everyone can visualise it- Renton (Ewan McGregor) the prettiest film junkie that ever there was- bombing it down Princes Street; the trauma of the dead baby; the Gemmel goal juxtaposed with an orgasm, the schoolgirl reveal, the ‘Choose Life’ speech and of course, ‘the worst toilet in Scotland’ sound-tracked to Brian Eno ambience. Few Scottish films so quickly attained cult status as Danny Boyle’s 1996 classic Trainspotting. Few modern novels achieved such acclaim in such a short space of time as the original source material, Irvine Welsh’s gritty account of 80s squalor in Edinburgh during Thatcher’s reign of terror. And with good reason- it felt fresh, iconoclastic, as sleazy as Iggy’s cat moves, circa ’73; as vibrant in its way as the rave scenes are captured.
So, why over twenty years later, do I not anticipate a brilliant follow-up to the original? Perhaps it’s that the first so vividly encapsulated a time that any reference to Renton, Spud,Begbie and Sick Boy will feel like a school reunion (something I would never experience, I despised school) ducking in a corner in order to avoid inevitable recriminations, squirming at old insults. Plus the name- T2– what, like Terminator 2? ‘They’ll be back- and this time, it’s methadone’.
Or maybe it is simply that I doubt that Begbie and Spud in particular would have survived- Renton seemed to possess the wherewithal to get out, but the others… hmmm. Danny Boyle is at the helm again, at least- if only it had been Richard Curtis- imagine. ‘Choose eschewing drugs for stultifying middle-class banality. Choose a trite plot with a stumbling, bumbling Renton now working in a branch of Waitrose. Choose a doe-eyed actor of dubious ability in the romantic role, squirming through her underwritten scenes’. Time will tell- maybe I am being a little ungenerous. Too much time has possibly passed, a mere mention eliciting shrugs from everyone in the office today in my quick straw poll.
But I think I’ll just wait for the DVD.
Trainspotting 2 is released on January 27th. Walk, don’t run.