Keep it quiet; Renton’s back in town

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BACK ON THE TRAIN: Edinburgh’s less than finest are reunited on a railway platform.

TRAINSPOTTING had a big impact when it hit the British cinema screen in 1996. The Current Mrs Feeney and I didn’t see it; we must have been busy doing something else that year.

But we do remember how much fuss there was about director Danny Boyle’s film about three Edinburgh heroin addicts and their psychopathic mate.

When you put it like that, perhaps we just didn’t think it was our sort of film. When we finally caught up with it on television, we realised we were wrong. So we were very keen this week to go along and watch Boyle’s sequel, T2 Trainspotting. Twenty years between first film and sequel; now that’s impressively failing to rush into something.

So along we went on Friday afternoon as usual. And as usual, the cinema was almost empty – which is one of the pleasures of having the free time to go to the pictures in the day when other people are in work.

Almost empty; while the adverts were running, a man and woman – I’d put them in their 50s – came in and sat across the aisle from us. And started talking. And talking. All the way through (and over) the adverts. Anybody who has been aurally assaulted by a cinema advert knows that being able to drown it out with your conversation is a considerable achievement.

And talking. All the way through (and over) the “trailers for forthcoming features.” So that was the favourite bit for some people spoilt.

This couple were loud. How loud? Loud enough for the man sat two rows directly behind them to get up and cower in the back row.

They did stop talking when the film started. But then they laughed Very Loudly Indeed at every vaguely amusing moment for the first 15 minutes. That included the moment when Ewan McGregor’s character Renton fell off a gym running machine – because he’d just suffered some kind of heart seizure.

I was beginning to wonder the most diplomatic way for a Retired Bloke to politely request somebody to “SHUT UP!” when they quietened down. Perhaps the film was proving less amusing than they anticipated; or maybe they just decided it wasn’t worth the effort to impress on the rest of the audience (all six of us) just what Massively Big Trainspotting Fans they were.

Anyway, about the film. TCMrsF and I both enjoyed it, but not as much as the first film. As well as the same characters (Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie the psycho) T2 has all the same ingredients as Trainspotting. Drugs? Tick. Sex and nudity? Tick. Violence? Tick. Black humour? Tick. Appallingly foul language? Tick.

WHAT LARKS: Arty types promote the annual Edinburgh Festival. Renton and his mates aren't big fans.
WHAT LARKS: Arty types promote the annual Edinburgh Festival. Renton and his mates aren’t big fans.

In fact, it shares so much with the first film (including original Trainspotting footage to illustrate when one of the characters is remembering the bad old days) that it eventually comes across as a bit self-referential. As Sick Boy says when he and Renton return to the bleak Scottish moor they last visited 20 years ago, it’s dangerously easy and comforting to become nostalgic tourists in your own youth.

But you’ve got to forgive it that for the energy (and cracking soundtrack) that it also has in common with Trainspotting. The scene where Renton and Sick Boy (both Scottish Catholics) are invited up on stage to sing a song – in a sectarian Loyalist pub – will live with me. The lyrics, invented on the spot by a terrified Renton, has the recurring refrain “There were no Catholics left” – to the delight of the bigoted Protestant regulars.

And it’s always a pleasure to see a film made in and about Britain, amid the sea of Hollywood movies on American topics.

TCMrsF and I agreed it was a good way to spend an afternoon.

The Factual Stuff:

Film: T2 Trainspotting.

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Ewan McGregor (Mark Renton), Ewen Bremner (Spud Murphy), Jonny Lee Miller (Simon ‘Sick Boy’ Williamson), Robert Carlyle (Francis Begbie).

Plot: Twenty years after he betrayed his junkie friends and made off with their money from a drug deal, Renton returns to Edinburgh. His old friends are waiting for him; and so are the memories, regrets and demons he thought he had left behind him.

Retired Bloke Rating: ****

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