Monday, April 15

Trance Review

Dir: Danny Boyle
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson,
and Vincent Cassel

Danny Boyle’s film catalog may explore different themes but the qualities associated with character, whether admirable or detestable, are a constant throughout. Look no further than the unrelenting, life seeking will of Aron Ralston in 127 Hours or the drug beguiled Renton in Trainspotting; Boyle’s emphasis on character is a major part of his success. In Trance, the hyperactive neo-noir heist/hypnosis film, Boyle displays his indulgently distinctive style and proclivity for confounding characters.

The film begins with art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) explaining to the viewing audience the purpose and training of his job. Simon, a questionable character from the get go, is working on a con to steal a rare work of art by Francisco Goya. However, during the robbery Franck (Vincent Cassel), Simon’s partner in crime, hits him in the head, which leads to amnesia. Simon, having doubts about the integrity of his partners, planned to steal the painting for himself; Franck goes to torturous extremes to force Simon into telling him the location of the painting but Simon cannot remember. Franck hires a hypnotherapist named Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to help Simon remember where he hid the painting.   

Boyle is known for tackling genre with a unique and perceptive influence. The gloom and grey mixed with a startling fast pace in the horror tinged 28 Days Later is just one example of his structured control. Boyle’s style is aptly suited for the changing state of reality in Trance. This film is unlike others in Boyle’s collection; though the style is similar the substance is exaggerated with gratuitous imagery and the characters compose ambiguously.

The film is technically on par with Boyle’s visual flourishes. The irregular editing style works in keeping the mystery of the characters; along with a pulsing soundtrack that prompts a swift pace during the film. The downfall of Trance is a rather simplistic narrative that tries to be more complex than it actually is. Though one might not catch that aspect until after the film is over it’s still noticeable and makes the film feel rooted in Boyle's intriguing design. There is a nice ode to Hitchcock’s thriller Spellbound and a nice mix of noir elements within the structure that offer ingenious attributes however they are short lived.

The excellent cast accommodates some of the blemishes in the plot. The characters are tasked with varying motivations throughout the film. Because the timeline is constantly shifting and the atmosphere predicated by the lingering doubt of what is real or imagined, the characters must embrace different ambitions throughout. McAvoy and Cassel handle the darker characteristics with ease while Dawson is mesmerizing in a supportive role while having great chemistry with both male leads.   

Trance is a film that allows Boyle exploration into his penchant for characters and the motives behind their choices. Though the storyline is somewhat predictable the filmmaking style of Danny Boyle will keep you intrigued even after you figure out the mystery. 

Monte’s Rating
3.75 out of 5.00

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