SXSW Day 2: The Trainspotting 2 Secret Screening

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Director Danny Boyle speaks during the Q&A after the SXSW secret screening of Trainspotting 2 with actor Ewan McGregor and moderator Richard Linklater. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Director Danny Boyle speaks during the Q&A after the SXSW secret screening of Trainspotting 2 with actor Ewan McGregor and moderator Richard Linklater.

This year’s secret screening at South by Southwest has been out in the U.K. since January, but a little over a hundred festival goers were treated to an early screening of the anticipated sequel to the 1996 hit, Trainspotting.

If you’re afraid that Trainspotting 2 will be yet another flat sequel that falls short of the emotion reached in the original, don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed.

That was probably due in part to the awareness of Danny Boyle, the film’s director, during the creation of the film.

“We had this expression where sometimes it would be said out loud and sometimes it’d be there unspoken in people’s eyes as they looked at you, and the expression was: ‘this better not be shite, Danny,’” he said during a Q&A with Ewan McGregor, who plays Mark Renton in the film, and moderator Richard Linklater.

It was like visiting an old friend, and true to the movie’s plot, one that you wanted to hit over the head with a barstool as you revisit the range of reactions to one of Scotland’s most defining pieces of cinema in the last 25 years.

Trainspotting 2 took the fast-paced energy of the its predecessor and gave it a facelift.

Seamlessly capturing the feeling of the first movie with less of gore that lent itself to the original’s character, Trainspotting 2 was a modern revisiting of four friends struggling with their past as the persistence of time pushes them forward.

“Movies are the artwork of time,” Boyle said. “You extend time, or you contract it … you can also stop it and unlock it, and it’s a weird kind of union you have with the audience.”

Nothing is lost in the chemistry between characters, even 20 years later—a testament to the original film and John Hodges, the writer for both films, McGregor said.

“That was bizarre,” he said. “It’s like it was still there.”

He told a story about arriving on set a week late and expressing his fear to Ewan Bremner, who plays Daniel "Spud" Murphy.

“He said ‘no we were all really nervous, but you’ll see.’” McGregor said. “‘You’ll get on set and it’ll just be fuckin’ there.’”

What makes this movie such a good sequel is that its relation to the first film mirrors that of the characters’ relation to their younger selves. Older, though perhaps not much wiser, they search for meaningful lives while attempting to reconcile the events in the original film.

This movie would not have worked had it been made ten years earlier or ten years later. Much of what it does for its audience is captured in the film’s themes of nostalgia and fleeting passage of time.

“This film explores something that’s starting to happen to me, that I know is happening to Danny and John [Lee Miller],” McGregor said. “There’s a sort of looking back on your life and starting to figure out what’s next, what’s to come, and there’s a nostalgia in that.”

Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor answer questions at the SXSW secret screening of Trainspotting 2. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor answer questions at the SXSW secret screening of Trainspotting 2.

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