First Hit: A wonderful 20-year follow-up film to Trainspotting.
Director Danny Boyle did what many people don’t know how to do, and that is create a follow-up film that works on many levels.
The characters are back and still attempting to find their way through life. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is back in Scotland after being in Amsterdam. He’s coming on the pretense that he has a happy life in Amsterdam and he’s back to settle up with his buddies after making off with £20,000 that the crew had stolen at the end of the previous film.
Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) is still struggling with heroin, is now divorced and loses connection with his son Fergus. Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Johnny Lee Miller) is now regularly doing cocaine and supports himself by having his girlfriend Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) sexually pose with rich people so that he can compromise them and blackmails them. He also runs a rundown bar that he inherited.
Lastly there is Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle) who has been in prison nearly the whole time. I loved that his accent was so strong that Boyle used captions allowing the audience to understand his rants. Near the beginning of the film, he breaks out of prison, returns home to find his son is in school for “Hotel Management”. Franco is an angry mean sort of man who wants to fight everyone and he especially wants revenge on Renton for stealing the money.
The film dives back to when they were kids together along with when they were all doing heroin together. The film uses these flashbacks along with very interesting imagery to tell the story. The one scene with Mark and Simon doing heroin in Daniel’s living room was surrealistically realistic. The friendship between the men, except Franco’s anger towards Mark, was touching.
McGregor was wonderful in his reprised role, thoughtful enough for the audience to like, and twisted enough to keep audiences interested and engaged as to what might happen next. Miller was appropriately intense, violent, and high strung. Each time he was one the screen, one wondered if he would blow-up and explode. Bremner was amazing as a very lost man but slowing finding his voice by writing stories. Carlyle was amazingly intense. He was like a firecracker each time he was on the screen and I kept wondering how long he could live his life like this. Nedyalkova was really wonderful by balancing her need to make enough money to go back home to take care of her child with how to get the most from both Williamson and Renton. John Hodge wrote and excellent screenplay filled with turns and truths about the characters. Boyle is on the top of his game with this film.
Overall: This film is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is an excellent second film about these characters and very well done.