In a smoke filled pub Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie and Spud squat around a table filled with empty beer glasses. Prominent on the table is a black and white sports bag. The men are merry and exchange light banter. Begbie rises to get a new round of beer. His gaze glances briefly over the bag. He nods at the bag and tells the others to keep an eye on it. Sick Boy rises as well to go to the bathroom and mentions to the remaining two that the bag would better still be there when he returns.
For a moment Renton and Spud are alone. Renton suggests to Spud the notion of taking off with the bag as if in jest. Spud rejects the idea. A moment later the Sick Boy returns from the bathroom.
Then Begbie makes his way back to the table, his hand full with glasses and he collides with another man. The beer spills over his clothes. Enraged he turns around to shout abuse at the man. The man returns words in kind. Begbie explodes and smashes a beer glass of beer in the face of the man, kicks him hard and again when he falls to the ground. Next he draws a knife to threaten the mans friends. When Spud closes to calm him down he cuts Spud in the hand by mistake.
Renton, his back to the scene of violence, then makes his decision. He will abscond with the bag to a better life.
I’m about to be on the floor again,
Surely you’re gonna find me here
I’m about to sleep until the
End of time, drug I take
gonna wake my
fear right now
I’m passing away on to the
“The Better Life” 3 Doors Down
The desire for another -often better- life has always motivated people to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise. Like stealing from friends of instance. Trainspotting starts with Renton listing all the things ‘normal’ people have and he lacks. At the end of the movie, after having acquired the means to attain a better life, or so he thinks – he lists them again. Everything he is going to have. The movie has come full circle: the snakes bites its tail.
Renton lives at the other side of the fence, in the prison: he is a drugs addict, living in a poor area, in a time the economy was in a bad state. He smokes, he drinks and is involved drugs and petty crimes. And his friends aren’t really friends. So he calls them mates. For Renton has just one friend really, which is Spud. Which is why he give Spud his share of the money from the bag.
Will Renton escape the prison to the better life?
What do you think?
And does it matter?
Movies end before we actually find out. For once the escape is done, there is nothing more to convey. Like the summit of the mountain has been reached what was needed to be told is told. It reminds me of the movie Goodfellows: Henry Hill escapes from his life as a mobster by ratting on his fellows, an inevitable development because he is caught by the law and his criminal associates suspect him of doing what he is going to do: betray them as part of a deal with the authorities. In the end he has no other option. At the end we see Hill on the porch in front of his house. It is an unremarkable house in an unremarkable neighborhood. He is a nobody now, like you and me. Safe perhaps, but a nobody. And he seems to regret it in a way.
Many story is are like aiming at the better life: if the ring has been destroyed then the evil is gone and a better life will return. It is a powerful motive in a story. A kind of MacGuffin that makes a story go. Stories seems to abide in a world that is off-kilter, a temporary state of unbalance and unrest. Different from the normal world. Something to consider when writing stories.