A Saturday afternoon and a day off might not entirely be the right combination for a visit to screen three in the Salisbury Odeon to watch the new Trainspotting sequel.
The seats were filled and lager and popcorn sustained many of my neighbours during an epic revisiting of Edinburgh and four characters – each in their own way hell-bent on destruction and pleasure! There is a deep political storyline to all that happens in this film – it feels as if everything is up for grabs, everything is up in the air. The chaos and anxiety (from my seat at least) emerges from a sense that we have absolutely no idea of what kind of society we are transitioning towards. Opportunism, the loudest voice, those who can exert the most leverage and power are the yeast and salt in this brave new world.
First a reminder. This is a black comedy crime drama film directed by Danny Boyle and written by John Hodge, based characters created by Irvine Welsh in his novels Trainspotting and its follow-up Porno. A sequel to Boyle’s 1996 film, Trainspotting, the film stars the original cast, including Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, and Robert Carlyle.
Twenty years after the previous film, Mark Renton returns to Scotland to make amends with his friends, Daniel “Spud” Murphy and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson ,whilst avoiding the psychopathic Francis “Franco” Begbie. The narrative moves quickly enlightened and expanded by music, flashbacks, and stunning shots of Edinburgh and its surrounding districts. There is violence, drugs and sex – but an all pervading struggle with a number of Demons. This is a story about all of our desire to rescue hope from the circumstances that can so often limit and diminish us. It also a story about ageing and our struggle with the process of never quite being able to be young again. There is the theme of redemption – and a curious questioning of whether we are able to rescue ourselves from the past. Are we for ever shackled to our younger selves and the mess which is living and loving?
Happily there seems to be some measure of resolution but if anyone runs the risk of feeling complacent about this curious and unpredictable world of ours then a couple of hours in the company of these four men will shatter any complete optimism or investment in any ideology that suggests that human life can ever be lived without struggle and even despair.
Don’t let this put you off – there will be moments of laughter and amusement at the sheer daftness of people and projects. Further than that in and through all of this there is deep friendship and love.
We live in indulgent times and part of our salvation is to be liberated from such hedonism and selfishness. There are glimpses of this message here – and for those of us of a religious disposition there is morality and theology in abundance! Look out for the one-liners and within the fold of the film are rather effective homily on the theme: choose life.
Clever, stretching, soul stirring, disturbing, amusing, and life enhancing even in the dark corners of that Edinburgh pub.