Posted by: ckckred | August 20, 2013

Trance

trance-james-mcavoy

Trance, director Danny Boyle’s newest film, is a slick, stylistic, often surreal thriller, a movie that seems rooted in the post-Tarantino period of the 90s.  Boyle mixes stories and blends characters for a sometimes disorienting but often entertaining piece of pop art.

I’ve admired Boyle’s earlier movies for his use of black humor and violence, but as of late his films have grown more sympathetic, sentimental, and, in my opinion, weaker, such as Slumdog Millionaire and 127 HoursTrance may be Boyle returning to his earlier roots, feeling grittier and darker than the director’s more recent work, having much in common with Trainspotting than Millions.

Trance opens with auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) handling the sale of Francisco Goya’s “Witches in the Air.”  During the transaction, a group of robbers, led by Franck (Vincent Cassel), break in and attempt to steal the painting.  Franck knocks Simon out and grabs the portrait, only to discover later that the canvas is missing.

As we discover soon, this was all supposed to be an inside job.  Simon called Franck and his men in order to steal the painting so he could pay off his large gambling debts.  As it turns out, Simon double crossed Franck and hid the painting, but due to the accident can’t remember where he hid it.  In an ultimate attempt to discover where he hid the painting, Simon hires Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), a skilled hypnosis who promises that she would be able to retrieve the information—if she gets an equal share of pay from Franck.

The film is centered on Elizabeth’s attempts to discover where the painting in and Boyle makes his audiences travel through Simon’s mind, transporting us into Simon’s own eyes.  Trance takes an Inception-like path, making the viewer question what is real and what isn’t, particularly during the middle of the movie, which makes the film incredibly intriguing.  However, Trance doesn’t stay on this path too long, instead turning on multiple plot twists and a somewhat unsatisfactory ending that lays out the plot directly to viewers (I would preferred an ending much more ambiguous a la Mulholland Drive).  I was somewhat frustrated by the film’s curvy path and felt some of the side characters to be weakly drawn, but while Boyle may not have complete control on his material, he keeps the film at a quick pace and I found Trance to be wildly entertaining.  While flawed, Trance may be the director’s best and most enjoyable movie in the past ten years.

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Responses

  1. Nice review man. I enjoyed Trance but found it a little hollow. It was fine for 90 odd minutes but I forgot a lot of it almost straight away. I do think this is more like Boyle’s earlier work but I don’t think it’s anywhere near those standards and I actually prefer Slumdog and 127 Hours to this I think.

    • Thanks! Yeah, it was entertaining but not as good as Boyle’s earlier work.

  2. Good write-up , man. I really enjoyed Trance. You’re correct in saying its Boyle going back to his roots. In many ways its shares a resemblance to Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. I actually had a review myself a few weeks back and for some reason it was deleted before I could post it. I’ll need to start all over again. 😦

    • Thanks! Yeah, it reminded me a lot of Trainspotting with its tone. While I had some issues I enjoyed the film and was impressed by Boyle’s surreal direction.

  3. This is on my ever growing movie stack ;-). Fine write up.

    • Thanks! It’s an interesting movie. I didn’t love it but enjoyed it overall.

  4. A lot of fun, especially if you enjoy people messing around with one another. Good review.

    • Thanks! Yeah, it was pretty enjoyable, though some parts felt a little sloppy.

  5. An entertaining film. Not Danny Boyle’s best, but an enjoyable diversion.

    • Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I agree. It was entertaining, but really not special and not at the same level as Trainspotting.

  6. Nice review, man. I enjoyed Trance, but it’s not one of my favorites from Boyle. I’m curious to see what he does next.

    • Thanks! I agree, it’s enjoyable but not Boyle’s best. I’d like to see him do another movie like this though.

  7. Still have not had a chance to give this one a watch yet but it is on my list.

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s worth checking out, not a flawless film but very entertaining.

  8. Also had issues with all the twists and was not a fan of the ending. Visually it looked great though (and I’m not only talking about that one shot 😉 )

    • Thanks for the comment. Yeah, the twists and ending all seemed unnecessary, but it looked great, including that one shot.


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