What is Trainspotting 2 About?
Updated: Oct 15, 2021
T2: Trainspotting 2: What Comes After You "Choose Life”
When you choose life, you essentially choose your future. You choose where you’re going to go, how you’re going to live, and practically how you’re going to die. You can only not fuck up until you actually fuck up for so long that the contemplative melancholy that proceeds your take on just how fucked up the world is will only carry more depth and detail as to why it only gets harder and harder to “choose life.” But then again, any choice we make will have to be definitive to some extent if it is to have a sense of meaning behind it, even if it’s just another fixation or addiction, so long as it’s honest.
“Choose life. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently. And choose watching history repeat itself. Choose your future. Choose reality TV, slut-shaming, revenge porn. Choose a zero-hour contract, a two-hour journey to work. And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody’s kitchen. And then… take a deep breath. You’re an addict, so be addicted. Just be addicted to something else. Choose the ones you love. Choose your future. “Choose life”
-Mark Fucking Renton
Mark Renton’s updated version of the classic monologue that painted him a rebellious counter-cultural cinema icon ultimately shows how the bullshit that fuels such cynicism doesn’t die the moment one chooses life. It pretty much shows how the bullshit just takes on a new and sometimes uglier form as the pile gets bigger and bigger, and sadly, there are is just too much open space for even more shit to occupy.
As a sequel, T2 Trainspotting makes no compromises. It can’t necessarily do that given that it is very much a story about confronting the past, which is diametrically opposed to the significance of the ending from the first Trainspotting film, where a tortured Mark Renton chose life, and part of that involved the willful act of abandoning his past, or to be more precise, his mates.
The act of betrayal can be quick, brutal, and worst of all, eternally lasting in the scars it leaves for those who felt the harshness of its’ sting. In the case of Spud (Even Bremmer), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller), and the psychotically delightful Begbie (Robert Carlyle), the sensation is still there, especially when Begbie had to do time for the same type of violent/parasitic nature that gave Renton’s thoughts of betrayal from the previous installment a lot more sympathy than what an audience would naturally allow.
Honestly, if there’s one thing the masterful writing of Irvine Welsh and the near-flawless direction of Danny Boyle can never be accused of failing, is its ability to make even a morally repulsive act of stabbing a friend in the back more rational as opposed to plain despicable.
Thankfully, T2 Trainspotting isn’t merely a journey back into the past. It certainly pays homage and embraces the very nostalgia of the original in order to illustrate the importance of moving forward than what the narrative stresses, despite at the same time balancing a multitude of side stories.
But then again, the original film embraced this approach so much so that to say that the Trainspotting franchise, if a rational cinephile would even dare assign such superficial commercialism, has thrived on what is no doubt a chaotic linear narrative. Quite a mouthful, but if you listen long enough to one of Mark Renton’s cynically accurate deconstructions of what makes modern culture so demeaning in its embrace that it’s expected, especially in a film that follows an unexpected trajectory.
Aside from the fact that this sequel to Trainspotting is modernized enough to get with the times, it still manages to tell a story that neither falters into the realm of a cliche while making it potentially possible for a sequel, which probably wasn’t discussed at the time of the original. Who knows? Only time will tell, and all that can be done in the meantime is to “Choose life.”
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Andres Benatar is thepyrrhic.com resident film expert. You can hear him on the 'Cinema 237' podcast - A podcast for cinephiles.
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