We went to the pub first, a proper grown up pub after dark. It wasn’t so much lager, lager shouting as a gin and slimline with demob happy parents crowded around a table chatting. ‘What are you two talking about?’ my husband asked me and my friend. ‘Shopping!’ we replied in unison. We were out to see T2 on the first night, a little apprehensive that it would be shite but unable to keep away. Memories of the good times filled our heads, all the years spent clubbing, partying and pointlessly putting the world to rights in late night conversations. It can’t be twenty years can it? It is and we’ve all gotten older. This is what T2 is primarily about. It brims with dewy-eyed nostalgia.
I really enjoyed it. I realise it’s got quite a niche audience, it probably won’t play well to people who weren’t there for the first one, but luckily for me I am a part of that niche. It’s funny and stylish and it does take you back. T2 is a very good movie but it isn’t as great a movie as Trainspotting. It doesn’t sum up a generation, unless that generation is the one pushing fifty and they all feel like there is nothing to look forward to. I’m not the sort of person who thinks everything was better in the past. At one point in the film Veronika, the middle-aged man’s fantasy tart with a heart, says to Mark and Simon (as they are known as grown-ups) ‘You live too much in the past.’ She’s so right, it is too much, the flashbacks, the music, Jonny Lee Miller’s hair, the choose life monologue redux. It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling but somehow it lacks in the punch that made the original so brilliant. There’s a scene where Mark, Simon and Daniel return to the spot in the countryside their now dead friend Tommy took them for a walk twenty years ago. It’s supposed to be a heart wrenching moment but as Simon eloquently puts it, ‘I’m not feeling it.’ There is nothing in this film to match the horror of the scene where Renton cooks up after the baby is found dead in her cot. Walking up a hill in memory of a character that died twenty years ago felt a bit distant.
At the end of the original you really felt for them, the desperation and fear that led to the act of betrayal and the ones that were left behind. I didn’t really care what happened to any of them in this one, not even Veronika and I know I was supposed to. T2 is more like an old fashioned caper movie than a film with anything real to say, like The Italian Job but with swearing and heroin. It’s a laugh though, just don’t expect too much.
I am a writer struggling to find an agent and one thing that really annoyed me about the film was the silly addition of Spud writing the original book as a memoir in his forties. Good luck with that pal, a memoir?! Who’s going to publish that? The original book was described as a nonlinear collection of short stories in Edinburgh dialect with multiple points of view, despite this when it came out in 1993 everyone on the tube was reading it, the grey skulls cover was all you could see, and the same again when the film was released 3 years later. Imagine a major publisher taking on such a thing today? There are no gone girls or dead men in sight, it wouldn’t get past the slush pile, as both Welsh and Danny Boyle have acknowledged in recent interviews. That would have been a great shame; an era-defining film would never have existed. It does make you wonder what we have been missing out on in these times of risk averse publishing?
I will be chairing a panel about the lack of risk taking in traditional publishing and the alternative routes available at the Write by the Beach Conference in Brighton on April 1st.