31/01/17, Trainspotting 2 (T2) at the Cameo cinema
On entering a full Cameo cinema with a tight, rather ugly hat on (£5 from Scottish Co-Op), I asked the doorman if I could go through to the screens and use the bathroom. 'Certainly,' he said, 'the gents' are just over there.' I was wearing a skirt, I wasn't tomboyish or androgynous in my look (or not deliberately, though the hat didn't help). I ignored his advice and made my way to the disabled toilets, my soul deflated.
Thus began my night at the cinema with T2, the sequel to the era-defining original of 1996. Having already written one full review, available on a new website set up by friends, www.the-ogilvie.com, I'll try to avoid repeating myself. Instead, I'll recast my gaze to the moments my earlier review doesn't cover, a more personal angle to an evening that became quite personal. At times during T2, I wiped my mascara-smudged eyes at the emotion of the film, especially in the scenes involving the character Spud. Spud is harmless, he is hopeless, also weak, well-meaning, sensitive, perceptive, he comes across as stupid, with his up-and-down nature he sometimes is stupid. He is what I could have been if I'd succumbed to drugs. He is sometimes how I come across anyway. Near the beginning of the film, he tries to kill himself for the shame he causes his family. I really wanted to cry at this point. I did cry at this point.
I cried at other moments. When at the end Mark Renton makes up with his father (the mother now dead), moves in with him, finally the rounded, loving human being his parents have always deserved. I was moved by the constant dabs of schoolboy photos of Renton and Sick Boy, when they were best friends. They become best friends again, eventually, when it really counts. I'm sorry for all the spoilers, but this isn't a film to watch for Shyamalan surprises. T2 is a film about growing up, past the point of realizing – or caring – you might not become the star you dreamed of being when you were young.
The film's screenwriter, John Hodge, joked in an interview how T2 – with its twenty-year gap between first and sequel – is like the Oscar-winning Boyhood (2014), a film made over several years to show the development of a boy to man. Kind of, but not. Boyhood was boring and overhyped and left me nonplussed. T2 had me sitting at the end in reflection, about how I'd watched the original back in the 1990s as a young man with the world at his feet. How I sat there twenty years on in an Edinburgh cinema as Gina, a trans woman awkwardly transitioning, 'living the dream.'And yet I don't know if T2 is that good a film. It's getting four stars from five by most critics, it lacks the savage edge of its predecessor, the concluding zero-sum-game. With its sometimes cartoon violence – especially regarding Begbie, who is almost a caricature, even if psychos like him really exist, and I know that they do – it's a film that sometimes dips into British 1980s comedic violence, like something from The Young Ones (1982; 1984). But Begbie is ultimately a plot device in this film, the avenging angel that Renton must face at the end. What really matters are Renton, Sick Boy and Spud. When they're together, you become uplifted by the obvious love they feel for each other, despite everything. And in my own awkward way, for the rays of sunlight that shone intermittently from it, I think I loved this film as well.