Warning: This story contains spoilers for T2 Trainspotting and 1996's Trainspotting. Choose this at your own peril.
The original Trainspotting has no time for women. Aside from Diane (Kelly McDonald), the 15-year-old schoolgirl who blackmails Mark "Rent-Boy" Renton (Ewan McGregor) after he sleeps with her, and Alison, who accidentally kills her baby while in a heroin coma, the only women given any screen time are mothers (to chastise), and Tommy's prudish ex, whose breakup pushes him into a shortened life of addiction and HIV. Women are window dressing.
You see, Trainspotting has a woman problem in addition to its drug problem. Which is why the conclusion of T2, the cult classic's sequel set 20 years after the original, is so satisfying to watch. The woman wins! The fuckbois lose! No matter how lovable Renton and his merry band of addicts can be, the fact is that they've spent a lifetime taking advantage of their loved ones. The women in their lives have suffered much, and gotten little in return. Until now.
To be clear, T2 isn't exactly a goldmine of complex women characters, either. But one, in particular, does stand out: Veronika, Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson's (Jonny Lee Miller) girlfriend, and partner in crime.
Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) isn't the typical Trainspotting lady. She's not being used by Sick Boy (who, now that he's a respectable con artist instead of a heroin addict, goes by Simon). Rather, she's using him — whether it's for an equal share of blackmail money, or the opportunity to be the madam of her very own massage parlor.
Even more refreshingly, she has no illusions about her role in their little group. In fact, one of my favorite scenes in the movie (and there are A LOT) has her mumbling in Russian about how Simon and Renton should just give it up and make out already, as the two bros mansplain her about 1970s football (the British kind).
When she later seduces Renton (we all saw this coming), it's on her own terms. She's definitely not in love, like Spud's (Ewen Bremner) long-suffering wife Gail (Shirley Henderson), or looking for a bit of excitement, like the rebellious teenage Diane. Just like the boys, she's just here for the payoff. And boy, does she get it.
Trainspotting memorably ends with a scam. Renton runs off with the £16,000 earned from a lucky one-time drug deal, secretly leaving Spud his share. T2 also ends with a scam. But this time, the scammers are the scammees. Veronika convinces Spud to use his forgery skills to help her steal a £100,000 grant made out to Simon and Renton from the Scottish government. Then she flees back to her home country, off to start a better life. It's a moment that echoes the first movie, only this time, I actually believe that this character will make the best of it. Renton was never going to run away forever. Veronika just might make it work.