Twenty years after Trainspotting made him a star and the poster boy of 90s excess could Ewan McGregor become Renton again?
Recently, I was in a cinema when the trailer for T2, the new Trainspotting film, was played. The whole room erupted into cheers. Perhaps your excitement is not as delirious. There are many who are dismissing the film before its even been screened. But I have a feeling that your anticipation levels are linked to how you spent your 1990s. Trainspotting, the 1996 original, remains the quintessential mid-90s movie. Like Oasis and Blur, like Kate Moss and love doves and Firestarter, it was of its time and captured that times cynical yet optimistic, hedonistic heart. Though the story was about heroin addicts, the feel of the film recalled different drugs: uppers, hallucinogens, ecstasy. There were real-unreal trippy sequences about losing pills in a toilet or going cold turkey; uplifting, rushy ones about clubbing and having sex. Plus fantastic music: Iggy Pop, Primal Scream, Leftfield. Trainspotting wasnt shallow, but it didnt dwell; it was always moving, like a long, clever pop video.
The characters were people you felt you already knew. There was Begbie, played by Robert Carlyle, the booze-fuelled, unpredictable psycho, a small-town Scottish version of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. Spud (Ewen Bremner): hapless, surreal, a lovable, smackhead loser. Sexy Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), out for whatever he could get, mostly women and drugs. And Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, the heroined-up antihero, who kept kicking drugs and then going back, and doing the same to his mates, until he finally robbed them all (except Spud) and ran away. Whats remarkable about Trainspotting is that even if you havent watched the film in years (I hadnt), youll remember each characters defining scene. Begbies was the freeze-frame where he chucked a beer glass over his shoulder into a packed pub. Spuds was the whizzed-up job interview (my pleasure in other peoples leisure) and the unfortunate bedclothes-across-the-breakfast-table moment. Sick Boy, the slipperiest of a selection of born-slippy characters: snogging a girl with an E on his tongue.
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