Posts Tagged ‘Trance’


Posted: March 29, 2013 in Film reviews
Tags: ,

Directed by Danny Boyle. Starring James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel

Whilst he was preparing an Olympic opening ceremony to dazzle the world, Danny Boyle took a few days off every week to make something that was far less family friendly, and something the Queen probably wouldn’t have agreed to be parachuted into.

Simon (McAvoy) is an employee at a prestigious London gallery, he’s also the inside man for a heist led by Franck (Cassel) and his gang of violent criminals, a heist that sees them steal a Goya worth over £25 million.
Except Franck only gets away with an empty frame, because at some point during the raid Simon managed to hide the painting, and after Franck slammed him in the side of the head with the butt of his shotgun Simon can’t remember where he stashed it.

Once Franck and co believe that Simon truly has lost his memory—after a little wince inducing torture—they hit upon the only reasonable solution; hire a hypnotherapist to go into Simon’s mind and help him remember where the Goya is.

Franck lets Simon choose a doctor from the internet and he chooses Dr Elizabeth Lamb (Dawson), but whilst the initial plan is to fool her into thinking Simon’s just lost his car keys, she soon cottons on to the real motivation behind their sessions, and agrees to help, but only for a cut of the money once the Goya is found.

And so the scene is set for a game of misdirection and betrayal, and can anything in Simon’s mind truly be trusted?
This might be a harder review than usual, because Trance is the kind of twisty mind bending film that you really need to see spoiler free.

What can be said, without fear of giving anything away, is that it looks and sounds gorgeous. The film is fabulously shot, a gleaming London of swanky apartments, Harley Street consulting rooms, auction houses ,seedy clubs and scrapyards, all lit in varying shades of red and blue neon, and whilst some might find the soundtrack intrusive, I really liked it.

The cast is good, with McAvoy the stand out for me, and he continues to make interesting career choices, and though comparisons with Ewan McGregor are always likely, in many ways I think he’s a more daring actor, and even playing victims he always brings a nice edge to his roles.

Cassel is an actor I like a lot, and he provides an interesting riff on his oft seen Gallic thug here. He perhaps could have been more threatening (certainly I’ve seen him scarier than here) but given some of the twists the story takes it’s probably for the best that he wasn’t.

Dawson is quite subdued, especially given Doyle is clearly trying to portray her as a femme fatale, although again there are reasons for this, and she manages to convince both as a woman who’s in control, and as a woman who’s a victim.

A film like this stands or falls on the twists. If the film doesn’t slot into place at the end you can feel cheated, and even when the dots do connect you can still end up feeling frustrated because the contrivances are a little… well a little too contrived.

If I’m honest I don’t think I realised I liked this film as much as I did until the end, but it really does all fall into place, and whilst perhaps not wholly convincing, for the most part everything does fit together, especially once the final reveal is made, and suddenly even things you thought were a stretch suddenly make more sense. I shouldn’t have been surprised at this given the story originated with the writer/director Joe Ahearne.

If it has a fault, aside from some of the performances being a little subdued, it’s that it all feels very hollow, but then again for a film about the vagaries of memory, about how easily our remembrances can be manipulated, this perhaps makes a lot of sense.

At the moment it’s probably my film of the year, though somehow I doubt it’ll feature in my top five by the year’s end. Still, as beautiful as it is brutal (be prepared for a few wince inducing moments, especially if you’re a bloke) it had no problem keeping me entranced.