Trance (2013)

TranceSimon (James McAvoy) is a fine art auctioneer responsible for delivering the more expensive items to safety in the event of a robbery. This puts him in stark opposition with Franck (Vincent Cassel), an art thief  looking to steal Francisco Goya’s Witches in the Air. Fortunately for Simon he is in league with Frank, aiding in the paintings acquisition; unfortunately for Simon, an injury suffered during the operation has rendered him amnesic and unable to recall the painting’s location. When he is sent to hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), however, reality begins to unravel as old memories come to the surface.

There’s never been any predicting what Danny Boyle might do next. Beginning his career with a small Scottish crime film, Boyle has since gone on to direct a zombie apocalypse, a science fiction flick, a Bollywood picture and a survival drama. Most recently, he has helped put together a stage version of the Frankenstein story, and even directed the opening ceremony for London’s 2012 summer Olympics. Now, eight months on, the Trainspotting director has returned to cinemas with his latest movie: Trance.

Though his output might be diverse and unique, there are inevitably a number of elements that are common to each, hallmarks that distinguish each as distinctively Boyle-esque. A Danny Boyle film is one with a boisterous soundtrack, an incredible kinetic energy and a surreal streak about a mile wide. While Trance displays all of these directorial trademarks–a sequence demonstrating the full extent of Elizabeth’s abilities demonstrating all three at once–this is still the director’s most drastic departure to date.

James McAvoy leads a strong central threesome as art Simon, perhaps the ultimate unreliable narrator, who goes from unlucky innocent to something else entirely as the film jumps from one unsuspecting protagonist to the next. Each are worthy of the title of star, but Rosario Dawson in particular stands out in a difficult role as Simon’s hypnotist, proving the most successful at holding onto audience sympathies from beginning to end, even as her ethics are pulled into question.

Unfortunately, the script often overrides character as it reveals new facets and motivations that force audiences to reevaluate their feelings on an almost minute-by-minute basis. While in theory this shouldn’t be a problem, in practice it means that the characters participating in the film’s denouement are almost complete strangers by that point, making their fates deeply unfulfilling.  Boyle does hint towards their true identities, and on repeated viewings this might compensate for first-time confusion, but that is little compensation when you’re feeling amnesic yourself.

Boyle had said in interviews that Trance was something of an antidote to his work on the Olympic Opening Ceremony, but that doesn’t quite prepare you for just how dark, demented and deranged the film is going to be. While ambitious and undeniably entertaining in places, however, Trance is a terribly muddled affair, and one that’s not quite as clever as it thinks it is.



About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

3 Responses to Trance (2013)

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Nice review. Not Boyle’s best movie, but definitely the most fun he seems to have had with a movie in awhile. That’s definitely saying something, too.

  2. Erik says:

    Good Review! Could have been much better but it is still enjoyable even if it is not his best work.

  3. Pingback: April 2013 – You’re all going to die tonight | popcornaddict

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