I’m surprised at myself for not writing about film sooner. Between cinemas and television, I must see on average three films per week. On top of that, there were my years of writing and teaching others to write screenplays. Perhaps this delay reflects the fact that 2016 was not a particularly good year for film.
Enough introduction, I begin the film strand of this blog with T2 Trainspotting. Filled with the same sense of fun and visual weirdness as the first Trainspotting, this instalment starts in real time 20 years after the original. Yes, it really has been 20 years. Mark Renton returns to Edinburgh to see his father after the death of his mother. Naturally, he visits his old friends, who had no idea that he’s been working at a low-level admin job in Amsterdam, where he’s been living with his Dutch wife. With these reunions, we get caught up with the characters’ lives. Spud is still a junkie and dealer, Sick Boy – now Simon the man – and his prostitute girlfriend are extorting public figures with sex scandals and Franco is in prison – but breaks out just in time to go after Renton, who stole money from him some 20 years earlier.
While the pacing and music make this an enjoyable dark comedy, the dramatic moments form the framework and give the film an underlying profundity. No truer is this than in a scene where the prostitute girlfriend asks Renton what Simon means when he says ‘Choose life.’ After he explains that it’s a reference to a 1980s anti-drug campaign, Renton offers this fuller answer:
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.
Worth the price of admission.