Trance (2013) Poster

(I) (2013)

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More frustrating than satisfying
cricketbat21 September 2018
Trance is disappointing. This movie jumps back and forth between reality and hallucinations so much that you eventually stop caring about what happens to the characters. And when the movie finally does explain what's going on, it's more frustrating than satisfying. Danny Boyle is one of my favorite directors, but this is far from his best work.
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Aims for complexity but is unnecessarily confusing – end result isn't "oh wow" but "oh for f's sake"
bob the moo20 November 2013
I was quite looking forward to Trance; I had heard a critic say that it was a real effort by Danny Boyle to get out from under the "national treasure" status he had obtained by how well he opened the Olympics in 2012 and that as a result Trance was very much against that image. He was correct because this is a very graphic film in many ways but before that we get to the plot. The plot is simple – an art robbery goes wrong for some reason, with the painting lost when the inside man hides it but forgets where he hid it due to damage inflicted during the robbery. The gang go to a hypnotherapist to try to get it out of him and from here it only gets messy.

I can see what the plot was trying to do because it is constantly twisting and turning as minds are messed with; actions may or may not be programmed; events may or may not be happening and those who appear in control may or may not actually be in control and, even if they are (or aren't), they soon won't be (or will be) because everything will change in a minute. I guess the aim is that the film was aiming for a narrative similar to that of Inception or Usual Suspects, where the story the audience is being told may not be the real story at all. At the end of both these films the effect is to be impressed by how well it did it and I'm sure for many like myself there was the desire to watch it again to be able to see the film in the new context you have. With Trance I did not have this feeling, when things did fall into place I only felt that it was such a messy pile that it had fallen into and I had not enjoyed or been engaged in the manner in which it got there or indeed where it got me at all. You can sense it wants to be smarter and more thrilling that it is, but where Usual Suspects is slick and stylish on its journey, this really just bumbles and blasts it way to the finish hoping it can carry you with it by force alone.

This force comes in the style of Boyle's direction and mostly it is good from this point of view – it is a good looking film but it does really feel like he is forcing the excess for the sake of it rather than it being part of the film. So the very extreme scenes of gore felt like the complexity of the story – there for the sake of being there. Of course this is not to say that I didn't appreciate the extreme (almost "no holds barred") nudity from Rosario Dawson, but again even for the teenage boy in my head, it felt forced and unnatural (the use of her nude – not her as a nude). The cast go along with it the best they can. McAvoy is good while Cassel always has a mean presence. Support cast is decent but I am really not sure about Dawson. It is not that she herself is not good, it is just that the film asks too much of her character and it is clear that Dawson doesn't always know who she is be – in any one scene she can be what is required, but in terms of making it one whole character or making links between these scenes, she cannot do it. I do not think the fault is all her – I guess the relationship with Boyle didn't help with this aspect, but for sure her performance seems unsure and a bit erratic.

Trance will try to bluster and bully you into thinking you're watching something really smart and well structured, but this is not the case. The film is confusing for the sake of it, excessive for the sake of it and ultimately tries to ride this to a satisfying conclusion but in the end you will not be left with feeling that you immediately want to see it again but rather the lingering doubt as to whether you should have bothered in the first place.
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Danny Boyle continues on his campaign to never repeat genres - Trance falls just short of greatness
thejoshl11 April 2013
Danny Boyle continues on his campaign to never repeat genres by giving us a stunning psychological thriller that crosses so many boundaries I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable even using the word thriller - the only thing for certain is that it is definitely psychological. Borrowing elements of film noir this exhilarating ride is just short of greatness. Just as you could imagine from the title; Trance is a visual, aural and intellectual dream-like experience.

Trance stars James McAvoy as Simon, an auctioneer who gets mixed up with the wrong group of thieves. Simon's auction house is selling a painting £27 million (Roughly $41 million) when a thief by the name of Franck (Vincent Cassel) breaks in and attempts to steal it. Before Franck can do so he and his crew notice the painting has gone missing and Simon is the only person that knows where it is. Unfortunately for Franck, Simon suffers a serious blow to the head during all the chaos and cannot remember where it is. After trying to divulge the location from him proves unsuccessful they turn to a hypnotist (Rosario Dawson) who can unbury any memory and that's where the audience joins in this psychological trip to find the painting. This film will leave you as hypnotized as any member of the cast was I assure you.

Dawson and McAvoy deliver excellent performances; they handle their roles with such control that every little subtle facial movement reveals more than it should, especially within Dawson's character. Vincent Cassel alongside them brings the story to full force and together with Danny Boyle they all bring Joe Aherne's gracefully twitchy screenplay to life.

Boyle interestingly enough stuck to his 18A rating not willing to dilute his story so he could hit a broader audience; the man isn't afraid to have graphic imagery in his film like other directors who have attempted the genre in a similar way (i.e. Chris Nolan, Inception). The cinematography is - as always with Boyle – beautiful and in fact rather charming in its own sense. He handles the camera with such precision it's impossible to question his cinematic choices. The coolest aspect of the film being his declaration of war on the senses with a chaotic soundtrack and fast paced editing.

The film however is not without flaws. The film so heavily relies on tricking the audience that it's actually very easy to get lost and unfortunately lose interest in the film. While I didn't particularly feel this way I can see why others would have. While I've always been fascinated by the idea of an unreliable narrator to tell your story, when you're switching between three perspectives trying to decide which one is reliable it can sometimes take too much focus away from your plot.

Besides that Trance is an intellectual delight with enough twists and turns to keep the majority of people interested. Its performances, style and tremendous attention to detail is enough make a very balanced film. If you love movies similar to Memento this is definitely something to check out.


Be sure to check out my review site:, and my video review of this film here
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Can We Get An Alternative Ending?
themissingpatient14 July 2013
James McAvoy plays Simon, a fine art enthusiast who works for a fine art auctioneer. His job is to secure the piece of art in case of a robbery. Vincent Cassel plays Franck, a high-end crime boss who has his eye on a particular painting up for auction. When Simon tries to stop Franck from stealing the painting during a heist, he suffers a head injury which causes amnesia. After recovering in the hospital, Franck and his cronies kidnap Simon demanding to know where the painting is. Turns out the painting vanished along with Simon's memory. This leads Franck to set Simon up with a hypnotherapist, played by Rosario Dawson, to help him remember what happened to the painting.

The story unfolds through Simon's perspective as we know as little as he does after waking in the hospital with amnesia. Though for the most part his past is a mystery, we are lead to like this character. For some reason we don't want to believe Franck when he tells Simon the heist was his idea and Franck was doing it as a favor to help pay off Simon's gambling debts. Is this because we feel as if we are in Simon's shoes or is it because we've become used to James McAvoy playing incorruptible heroes? Either way it is very clear that Simon is our protagonist and Franck is our antagonist. If it wasn't enough that Franck has his cronies pull out Simon's fingernails, Vincent Cassel has played enough despicable villainous roles in the past to make us weary in his presence. The most mysterious character is Elizabeth, Rosario Dawson's hypnotherapist. As the film speeds forward, we begin to trust her less and less.

Danny Boyle is not just one of the most talented directors working today, he is one of the best directors to work in film. Almost every one of his films has either gained a cult following, international critical acclaim or both. His career took off after two back-to-back hits, Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. In 2002 he took digital filmmaking to new heights and brought back the long dead survival horror genre with 28 Days Later. With Millions he was able to show off a more gentle side, doing what Scorsese did with Hugo, making a family-friendly film that appealed to both children and adults without alienating his fans. A very rare feat. Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours would both please audiences and blow the minds of critics, taking him to the top of the list of the most beloved directors. No matter how fast-paced or stylish his films get or look, he never allows it to take away from the emotional core of the story. He can take the most dull, tedious story and make it as exciting as an action packed thrill ride with creative Raimi-like shot composition and an unparallelled ear for great, epic soundtracks. Trance is a step-back for Boyle. While fans of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting will love the idea of Boyle re-teaming with screenwriter John Hodge, this will be a disappointment.

Trance does not stop twisting and turning until the very end. It is a relentless thrill ride that contains some of the most interesting topics you can put in a story today: Amnesia, hypnosis and memory regression with a hint of mind control. Though these intriguing topics are put into play they are never fully explored to the extent that we want them to be. The major issue with Trance is the final twist and conclusion. When everything is fully revealed, it is not something we wanted or hoped for.

With Shallow Grave, Hodge and Boyle had the same dynamic going. Two opposite males with a somewhat mysterious female in the middle. In Shallow Grave we have a respectful, responsible geek and an obnoxious, party-loving jerk. The more tension builds with the story the more we see the obnoxious jerk really isn't a bad guy, he's just never had to take anything serious in his life before. We come to like and relate to this character more and more as the responsible geek becomes an obsessive control freak. It's an excellent shift in characters as well as a cleverly written way to change your audiences perception/opinion on the characters at play. Trance never bothers to give you a reason to like any of the characters but obviously we're going to be rooting for the character who's shoes the film has put us in. It doesn't feel like Hodge or Boyle bothered to try to do anything more than set-up the twist and deliver it in a package made of the most exciting sound and visuals possible. We are suspicious of Franck and Elizabeth and are never given a reason or the time to like or care for them.

In the end it feels like we have just witnessed a magic trick that instead of leaving us with a sense of awe and wonder, we are left feeling cheated. A bad taste lingers in the mouth afterwards. They give us the sense that the ending is happy, that everything wrapped up perfectly. This couldn't be father from the truth. The end credits roll but we are left sitting in the dark hoping for an alternative ending. An ending that lives up to how fun the film was up until the final reveal.
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fusion-haywire27 January 2017
Utter guff. Got so bored halfway through I cracked open the rum and got a lash on. Barely paid any attention to the second half but don't think I missed much. Seeing Rosario Dawson's chebs doesn't even make up for this pish. Apparently you have to write 10 lines but I'm finding it difficult to write a couple of lines about how bad this was. It doesn't help that I've drank rum, maybe that's why I didn't like it but I doubt it. Don't get me wrong, I like Danny Boyle's films but not this steaming dungheap. Did I say that I drank rum? And some Prosecco to kill the pain. I watched some mosh pits on YouTube afterwards and that cheered me up no end.
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A disappointing example of technique in search of effect
Likes_Ninjas9014 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Trance is an extremely convoluted film by director Danny Boyle, not necessarily because of the narrative structure but how the film is stylistically pronounced. There are audio-visual red herrings used to mask over the absurdity of a plot that switches from a heist movie to an internal psychodrama. However, once you overcome the deliberate sensory overload, the story and characters don't make enough sense to hold any emotional investment. Despite Boyle's experience and imprint as a deeply stylised filmmaker, Trance is a disappointing example of technique in search of effect.

The film starts off with humour and an energetic heist, but the story and the character motivations are extremely convoluted, buried deep beneath the (electronic) sound and fury. Simon (James McAvoy) is an auctioneer (or is he?) who describes the changing methods of stealing art over the years. It turns out that he is actually part of a job himself and in the chaos of a raid on an auction he snatches a Goya painting. As he escapes, he is hit over the head by crime figure Franck (Vincent Cassel).

Due to the blow on his noggin, Simon can't remember where he hid the painting. Franck tortures him for the location but this fails. Simon is then instructed to see Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), a hypnotist who Franck and his men believe will be able to work his mind and reveal where the painting is. Simon must lie to Elizabeth about what he is actually trying to find.

Aside from the heist, there's very little here that's believable or clear. There's an early scene for example, where the thugs wire up Simon with a microphone and listen in on the sessions from their car, which doesn't ring true. One of the major problems with the film's plotting is that there is little time establishing who the characters are. The screenplay by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge is hesitant to revealing the inner life of the main players only so that they can withhold a huge plot twist at the end. It's not a gamble that pays off because the 'gotcha' moment feels more like a conventional thriller twist rather than a psychological insight into Simon's character.

Failing to establish the characters properly weakens their credibility and motives and makes them seem more like plot devices existing in a vacuum instead of real people. You will be wondering why Elizabeth strives so persistently to help Simon and when those answers are revealed late in the film they're improbable and unsatisfying. The narrative twist will remind you a lot of Inception, which Trance draws heavily from in the way it plays with memories, but it is without the same clarity or the emotional investment, failing to earn its story turns from the start.

Realising the generic hide and reveal structure of the narrative, Danny Boyle has employed an aesthetic resembling a music video to disorientate the viewers. I was impressed with the bravery of his formal choices in 127 Hours (2010) but it's like he's forgotten how to be calculating as a filmmaker. The stylistic choices he makes either lack purpose or overstate the theme. Camera angles are frequently tilted sideways and a neon lit colour scheme is employed to remind us tiredly of Simon's confusion. The blaring electronic soundtrack also raged so loudly and needlessly that I stuck my fingers in my ears at one point.

If these superficial techniques weren't distracting enough, the film also tries its hand at melding the real and the fantastic together in overlapping scenes, so that we're not sure if we're in a dream or not. The film becomes very messy, super violent, and not much fun. I found it so confusing that it took me out of the story and I didn't care one iota about the characters. If there is a point to their story, the film is about the way that people try to suppress trauma and personal responsibility in their minds. Yet for a movie striving to be psychological, it is the personal and human weight that is notably missing.
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And it had such a potential...
jovanroland16 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Before you think or say anything, no. I am not a fan of 'flying-cars- and-huge-explosions' movies. I love movies for the story they tell, and this is exactly why I ended up not liking this movie. The way I see it, this movie is a failed try of copying 'Inception' or whatever, but it utterly failed in producing the same charm 'Inception' had. The story had such great potential, and I liked the whole hypnosis thing, it was actually a really fresh idea.

Halfway through the movie, though, I became confused. Until the end of the movie, I didn't know what was real, what wasn't, who wanted what, who was plotting with whom and against whom.

And in the end, they revealed one of the worst plot twists ever.


A man slaps a woman, so she decides to be a total b**ch about it, and hypnotize the man into forgetting her (but not really?), gambling, getting indebted, ruining his life completely and stealing a bloody valuable painting for her, which she would later not sell, hang it up on the wall of her living room instead, and show it to the main bad guy over a Tablet, and say a few irrational sentences, which makes for a completely confusing ending, and you end up not knowing why she wanted the painting at all, and why she would get in touch with a man who would want the painting for himself.

If a man hits you, you put a damn restraining order on him, woman, not cause a criminal calamity just so you could get back at him.


All in all, it's a failed attempt of a movie that tries so hard to have a complicated, mysterious and intriguing story. And don't tell me that's what makes the movie 'charming'. It doesn't. The 'confusion' element is just not well implemented. At all. It's awful.
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Boyle Sending Audiences Into A Trance
gregwetherall26 March 2013
2012 was the year that Danny Boyle became a national hero for many in his domestic Britain after masterminding a stunning opening ceremony of the Olympics. Seemingly able to satisfy even the sternest of sceptics with a rabid display of flair and flamboyance, he became elevated to a hallowed level of reverence. In the weeks that followed, he seemed to acquire an approval rating that most politicians would have gawped at, green eyed with envy. He stands tall as an icon of the every man, with an unaffected regional accent and amiable demeanour, with a dose of easy going charm. Beneath this genial appearance is a voracious talent that is testament to many years of hard work alongside any natural ingenuity. Lauded with plaudits and success, it would appear he can do no wrong. Or can he?

Returning to his day job, Boyle re-enters the film arena with Trance, a London-based psychological thriller that rushes around with about as much calm and patience as an ADHD sufferer. He has said that he was finishing this project whilst he was working on the Olympic opening ceremony, and that this should be viewed as its 'dark, evil cousin'.

Starring Vincent Cassel, James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson, Trance undertakes a card shuffling roll call of sympathy and understanding. Early on, McAvoy's Simon misplaces a valuable painting. Under the persuasive encouragement of Cassel's band of criminals, he ends up seeking the counsel and help of hypnotist, Elizabeth (Dawson), to retrace his steps. Although the backdrop for the film is that of a common theme; a heist, it is merely window dressing for what is an indeed dark and, heck, schizophrenic joyride into the mind.

With a nodded cap to the disorientating freewheeling narrative of Nolan's Memento, this film glides along a bumpy path. It takes pleasure in scrutinising the tricks and tics of memory. Boyle plays chess with the players and moves them around with the devilish glee of a ringmaster induced with the cruel egomaniacal urge of a cartoon villain. You can almost hear the grind of his hands rubbing together as he plots each skittish twist and turn. This is aided, helpfully, by Joe Aherne's source material and the screenplay's joyfully itchy nature. The film also has echoes of Inception. But with added sex.

Daring to make this an adult film and not dilute it in order to make it accessible for a wider and broader audience, he does not eschew from graphic and explicit depictions. He performs with the cinematic frisson of a British Tarantino, but without Quentin's fondness for a baggy screenplay. Having said that, and although such comparisons make for neat phrases for critics to write, Danny Boyle is very much his own man. His films are all underpinned by his stylistic stamps of authorship. In fact, as it tends to be a defining quality of all of Boyle's films, this one does not disappoint in its assault on the senses. The thumping soundtrack plays havoc on the ears and the fast cuts fix into the eyes with the precision of a laser beam.

Not everything is welcomed wholeheartedly and with open arms, however. As much as the virtues of Trance are easy to spot and identify, it is also somewhat flawed. So much emphasis seems to be placed on tripping the audience (in every possible sense) that the film renders itself a little distant to the sense of touch. The characters are slippery and the consequence of such skillful toying with the assumed integrity (or lack thereof) of the protagonists leads inevitably to an arms space from empathy.

In addition to this, the relentlessly florid displays of directorial showmanship makes the pacing a little too one-sided. So persistent is the pace that the runtime feels a little longer than the 101 minutes that it forms and you may well emerge exhausted as the lights come up. Maybe the frenetic nature of Trance is a deliberate counterpoint to the relative stasis of 127 Hours. As it stands, this film zips along at a speed that would make even Usain Bolt baulk and cower with fear.

Any quibbles mentioned do not deviate the bottom line verdict. This film is, on balance, a mighty success. It may not be as charming and lovable as the Oscar garnering Slumdog Millionaire, but it is a relentlessly entertaining thrill ride. It stands as an hour and forty minutes at a cinematic equivalent of the best theme park you could name. Hold on tight and buckle in.
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Utterly ridiculous
shelkara-603-68445621 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I have been a fan of every other Danny Boyle movie up until last night, when I saw Trance. In its way it is riveting. The pace is unrelenting, and the soundtrack does its job admirably, creating a tense atmosphere and general air of sexiness. The acting for the most part was skilled, but I'm sorry to say James McAvoy (whom I have loved in numerous other movies) didn't play this particular character on the right note.

Briefly, the plot involves (Note: POSSIBLE SPOILERS) a priceless Goya painting that goes missing during a botched heist at an auction. James McAvoy plays Simon, an employee of the auction house, and he seemingly tries to get the painting to safety, out of the thieves' hands. In the process, the main thief, Franck (played by Vincent Cassel), hits Simon on the head, causing serious injury, and steals the bag containing the painting. But Franck then discovers that the painting is not in the bag, and when Simon finally recovers from his injuries, he has amnesia and cannot remember where he hid the painting. SPOILER: It becomes clear he was working in cahoots with the thieves, and he goes to see a hypnotherapist in the hope that the therapy will jog his memory. It becomes clear very early on from that point that there is more to the therapist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), than is immediately apparent. Insidious games are afoot.

Where this film lost me is in the wild inconsistency of the character Simon. Yes, because of his memory loss he is an unreliable narrator. What was clear to me is that here is a character whose torment is deeply buried, but is brought back to the surface by a blow to the head. In my opinion, James McAvoy treated it too lightly. He has shown intensity in other roles, but it seemed to me that he didn't bring that intensity to bear here. The character is supposed to be deeply confused, but it comes off as mere puzzlement instead. But getting back to unreliability, even in the flashbacks, it was clear to me that the impact of hypnotherapy on the character's actions was applied only when it served to further the plot. If you were following a logical path, (SPOILER) hypnotherapy could've solved all of Simon's (not to mention Elizabeth's) dilemmas. I mean, if you can control someone via hypnotherapy, how far does that control extend? The film blatantly skips over this, leaving a gaping plot hole. In the latter half, the film starts to descend into absurdity...without getting too spoilery, all I'll say is: shaving scene. After the movie was over, just thinking back on this scene made me hoot with laughter. Another note: Vincent Cassel had a thankless role in Franck. Here is an actor who can really dig his teeth into complex characters, and Franck is merely a plot device. Cassel is wasted in this role.

This film also features what is a particular pet peeve of mine, which I realize is entirely subjective: all of the main characters are more or less amoral. A movie without a moral center is a rudderless one for me. You could argue that (SPOILER) Elizabeth's motives have a moral origin, but her subsequent actions negate this for me. However, it could be in keeping with an early observation put forward in this film about greed -- maybe this film is just an exercise in a portrayal of our capacity for greed (and our supposed willingness to excuse ourselves our sins) and that is all. In the end, however, it all rang hollow for me.
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It had potential
iloveherfatass24 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Trance has proved itself to be the first (and hopefully last) Danny Boyle directed film that has disappointed me. Though, having a promising concept, giving an enjoyable introduction to what seems to be a Thriller worth the time.

Our main character Simon (played by James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer who suffers from a hard case of gambling addiction. Simon is so financially affected by his addiction that he decides to steal a '27 million' painting while partnering up with a group of criminals lead by Franck (played by Vincent Cassel) to help him achieve his goal. When Simon embarrassingly fails to deliver the painting to Franck he is hit in the head. Simon ends up having amnesia and forgets the true location of the painting and after being tortured for answers Franck is convinced that Simon indeed has forgotten where he hid it. They decide to use a hypnotherapist as a solution to their dilemma. And THAT is where the film begins to take some wrong turns.

The main scenario of the film starts to become less and less believable with each move. The hypnotherapist character named Elizabeth (played by Rosario Dawson) and her motivations become more confusing, weirdly complex and shallow. The main characters create messes out of messes as the film further progresses towards atmospheric confusion.The film builds up a triangle drama as the main theme with strange dream scenes that are either (depending if its either Simon or Franck) the result of another hypnosis session or just a dream. Towards the end the film tries to bring in some clarity and an explanation to the table (in an already mess of a story) as we see Simon become (in a way) the villain and the ACTUAL villain become a victim but at this point it is just too late.

The film proves itself to be based on a decent concept, but also an unfinished idea for whatever makes a reasonable and good story. The characters became more shadow like with each passing moment of the plot, although being given a good performance (from some) the decisions and the overall situation is simply too far fetched. The whole ending is ridiculous. Simon embraces his (now revealed) dark past and the fact that he apparently is a violent and abusive monster. He attempts to burn Franck alive (at a point where Franck is now weak whereas in the beginning he was criminal and torturer) and during this attempt Elizabeth successfully kills Simon by rushing a truck at him as he opens his arms. AND after all of this Franck (not really but also kinda) wakes up in his bed making the whole thing seem like a dream. But we're given a crystal clear answer during the final scene that it wasn't a dream at all. Just completely screwed.

Whatever made me give this film respect was absolutely removed after being forced to go through the ending. Now I'm gonna need hypnosis to forget all about this trashy drama thriller.
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Boyle's "Inception" Without the Special Effects
3xHCCH4 May 2013
An art auctioneer suffers amnesia when a robbery of a Goya masterpiece went wrong. A hypnotherapist was recruited to jog the memory out of him. Thus begins the multi-layered puzzle that is "Trance". I could not say more about the story as this remains for you to watch the unfolding of each scene that complicates the one before it.

Danny Boyle was very much in the news in the past few years because of his "Slumdog Millionaire" as well as his London Olympics gig. Now he returns to the big screen directing this Rubik's cube of a film, and that itself makes this film an event to witness.

James McAvoy plays Simon, the art auctioneer with a huge gambling debt caught in a bigger web, with the necessary cluelessness and helplessness. In fact, I could imagine Boyle's "trainspotting" discovery Ewan McGregor in this role had it been done ten years ago.

Rosario Dawson lends her exotic appeal as hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb. It was her character that provides this film that complex structure which would keep the audience wondering which is reality and which is just a trance. She was credible, treading that delicate balance between good and bad, realistically keeping the two other male characters guessing at her real intentions. Her brave moment of frontal nudity was key to how the story turns, not gratuitous.

Vincent Cassel plays Franck, the ruthless mastermind of the art heist. His character would have been a one-dimensional bad guy in a lesser actor's hands. Here Cassel gives Franck another level of what seems to be vulnerability, or then again, maybe not.

Fans of film noir, of films that make you think, will enjoy "Trance". I am sure many fans of this film will watch it again to try and get it the second or third time around. Boyle has given us "Inception" without the grand special effects. So good. Must-watch.
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The most versatile director in the industry...
CharlieGreenCG12 April 2013
From directing Bollywood, Sci-fi and Zombie flicks, to action thrillers to the London 2012 Olympics, Danny Boyle is the most versatile director in the industry. Currently at the top of his game, Boyle directed Trance parallel to the Olympics on the same shooting schedule in the same weeks (literally!). In interviews he said relative to the Olympics that Trance is the 'dark cousin of the Olympics'. Boyle brings us a character-based, twisty thriller, just like the ones from the 1990's that launched his career.

Trance is introduced with a Scorsese sprint-heist, where Simon (James McAvoy) is an inside man on stealing a £27,000,000 Goya painting from his job at an auction. When Simon double crosses his partner Franck (Vincent Cassell) he suffers a strike to the head, leaving him with amnesia. In order to find out where he hide the painting he must take hypnosis sessions to revive his memory. But as lines blur and hypnotic suggestion takes over, the situation gets darkly complex.

Keeping you indulged for its entire one-hundred and seventeen minutes running time the film is imperatively based on narrative. Forget CGI and the rest. To make a good film use the three things that Hitchcock says is essential in film-making, 'the script, the script and the script'. Boyle does this wondrously.

While Boyle assembled his old gang behind the camera, in front of it, they're all new faces for the film-maker, and they all rise to the occasion. Vincent Cassel at first seems to have the least interesting part of the film. The same sort of character he has played in the Ocean movies. Meanwhile other cast members such as James McAvoy and Rosie Dawson give the best performances of their careers. McAvoy in fact has never been so good. Appearing in two films on this months release (also Welcome To The Punch). He breaks his character type and shows his malevolence.

The film is a trippy heist thriller. Think Fight Club, Inception, Memento and The Sixth Sense and the style of story and endings. Trance is no exception. Even as we left the cinema other audience members where throwing around the Nolan word. But this film does seem like it has earnt the comparison. Compiled with complex script flips and twists the film is all solved in the final act, much like Nolan's films.

Having earnt its deserved rating of 15 the violence and excessive swearing are throughout. And all of the three of the main cast are seen at one point of the film both naked and abused. Interesting, eh? This is one film that should not be missed. Released tomorrow (March 26th 2013) this film is highly recommended.

Read this review and many more at our website - Gone With The Movies
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A bit of a let down
giantpanther13 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Full disclosure, I might not have been as harsh on this film if Danny Boyle wasn't the director but with Boyle I expect more, Trainspotting was a very cool film. I have always given Danny Boyle films a chance, even if they don't appeal to me, after Trance I will stop that. Trance didn't look that interesting to me, but I thought I would give it a shot and it just didn't quite add up. I mean at best you could say yea its an average decent film, not bad, but i was expecting good or great even possibly.

The basic plot is this, and I am sure I will hit some spoilers so be aware of that. The film starts and you aren't sure if McAvoy is a victim or in on the crime of stealing the painting, he narrates the first segment of the film and from that I was excited that this would be a good experience. So McAvoy works at an art gallery, some guys come to steal a piece of painting they get it or they think they do but McAvoy has hidden it. Problem is during the robbery he got hit in the head so he can't remember. Thus they go to a hypnotherapist - Rosario Dawson.

From there everything turns into a mess, up until he goes to see the hypnotherapist the film is at 10/10 really great. It slows down when she comes in because things start to just get illogical, she goes from mild mannered therapist to wanting in with the criminals who at this point McAvoy turns out to be in with to a degree as well.

The arrangement was McAvoy had a gambling debt, Cassell has some money so he paid the debt off with the understanding that McAvoy would assist with getting a very valuable painting. Now here's where it gets all spoilery, McAvoy really has no reason to keep the painting for himself so why would he be so stupid to keep it those thugs would just come after him. Well the reason is because he used to date Dawson the therapist and he became abusive, so she stopped dating him but he kept coming to sessions where she brainwashed him into forgetting her and bringing her a valuable painting.

OK now none of this makes sense, why would Dawson turn out to be this vindictive and willing to involve herself in crime and it is never indicated that McAvoy is a violent sociopath who would become obsessed with his girlfriend and beat her. Thats my huge problem with this film that the character make absolutely no sense. So as a viewer I feel cheated, I feel like the filmmakers think I am too stupid to question the flow of things so they can just throw stories at me as facts and I will accept it without needing any kind of visuals to back them up.

So apparently this film thought it would get points for plot twists, and while plot twists are appreciated in films you need evidence to back them up later which we do not have. There is nothing earlier in the film that would support why or how Dawson would want to involve herself in criminal activities, and there is no indication that McAvoy goes around beating women. This film demands too much in the way of suspension of disbelief.

Also they pull one of the cheapest tricks that I hate, where an action scene goes down, you are all intrigued and excited and then ohhh wait never mind all fake it was all a hypnosis dream. from that point forward I couldn't really trust this movie and I was largely just annoyed by its presentation.
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Doesn't go anywhere.
mwburrows8 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There's always space on a film company's schedule for a wacky post- modern philosophical thriller designed as critic bait and full of kooky, unusual ideas. Trance is, in parts, that kind of film: uncommon, interesting, and to its credit, inspired, but it fails to live up to the hype.

The ultimate sin is to be boring, and Trance is long overdue for a confession. The first act is a capable, fun, and interesting set-up, let down by a plodding middle that desperately clings to the flimsy premise of the story and forgets to throw in any of that secret herb called suspense that makes a thriller successful. There is no action. There are no sub plots. Just a long continuation of hypnosis scenes, one after the other, and the way I see it, they're just padding for the mucky middle.

You could easily cut out all the irrelevant hypnosis scenes and cram this movie into a 45 minute TV episode. There's so much filler it's insulting. If you're going to make a thriller, you could at least give the audience what they want, ie thrills.

Besides the poor screen writing, the antagonists of the film are just tough guy caricatures. I can't even remember their names. The French bloke is given lots of screen time but he is just uninteresting and there is too much focus on him. I started to feel like McAvoy's character was now in a supporting role in the second and third act. The focus turns mostly on the psychiatrist and Frenchie, and McAvoy just appears for a hypnosis scene now and then. The director has chosen to cut his scenes haphazardly and the result is sometimes confusing - there were some scenes where I couldn't tell what was a flashback/dream and what was actually happening.

I gave up around the 1 hour mark. I found a good quality cam online and I am very glad I didn't pay to watch this. The only good part for me was that Moby song, and I was constantly checking facebook because Trance couldn't hold my interest at all.
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A Hypnotic Mess
Theo Robertson28 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
During an armed robbery at an art gallery Simon Masterson in knocked unconscious and suffers from amnesia where a £25 million painting is stolen . As it transpires Simon was the inside man on the job and he's forgotten where he's stashed the painting and the gang aren't in any mood to let Simon's amnesia foil their criminal dividends . Simon undergoes hypnosis with a beautiful female therapist in order to regain his memory knowing if he fails the art thieves he's involved with will have no further use of him

I had high hopes for TRANCE as soon as it was announced . Danny Boyle stole the show at the Olympics with his opening and closing ceremonies the screenplay is written Joe Ahearne who was the main director of the all too short era of Christopher Eccleston's DOCTOR WHO and like Boyle can work visual miracles on a limited budget which leaves me puzzled why Boyle and Ahearne haven't relocated to Hollywood but I very much appreciate both film makers have stayed in Britain and are involved in British film making . That said when ever I look forward to a Boyle movie I'm always left with after I've seen it with a slight feeling of disappointment and wonder if his undisputed masterwork is around the corner

TRANCE get off to a great opening and is similar to his earlier work in travelling through the metaphysical psyche of a character very much like the audience see in to the mind of Renton in TRAINSPOTTING . The opening sequences of the movie as the language of cinema are used to a breathtaking effect as Simon breaks down the fourth figurative wall of cinema . The whole look of the movie is hypnotic as a combination of cinematography , editing and the in your face blasting soundtrack grips you harder than one of the infected from 28 DAYS LATER

The much voiced criticism of Danny Boyle is that he can't sustain the second half of a movie . With the exception of 28 DAYS LATER and SUNSHINE it's not something I've really noticed and when I have noticed it it's obviously been the fault of screenwriter Alex Garland rather than Boyle and the director manages to keep up the visual assault on the audience but the more the film continues the more spanners are thrown in the works and these are down to Ahearne and fellow writer John Hodge

This movie belongs in the sub-genre with the likes of TOTAL RECALL , THE MATRIX , MEMENTO and INCEPTION that use the theme of altered reality to tell a story . Several times you think the narrative plot turns are cheating the intrigued compelled audience but then you have a character explaining the twist and the audience gasp that they're not victims of contrivance or cheating . However the more the story continues the more and more you realise the characters are spouting the mechanics of the plot which is a mistake . Add to this by the final third the characters are still spouting exposition but by then you're relatively lost as to what's happening , only to have the protagonist behind the set up once again go in to a long monologue what their agenda has been . On top of that none of the characters are likable in any way and when the least hateful character in a film is played by Vincent Cassel something has gone wrong somewhere

In summary TRANCE lives up to the old cliché that " If a film is good it's down to the director and when it's bad it's down to the screenplay " and this is a movie that lives up to that well worn adage . Certainly it's enjoyable and even someone like myself who is against petite bourgeois nationalism feels a surge of jingoistic patriotic pride when a film stamped with Made In Britain tries to be a mainstream success . Unfortunately one suspects this won't be the international success SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was due to it being far too clever for it's own good
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First rule of Trance is: You don't talk about Trance.
TheSquiss27 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
First rule of Trance is: You don't talk about Trance. And that makes reviewing it difficult. It's too easy to give too much away. This is one of those films to consider avoiding the trailer and going in blind. Certainly don't talk to anyone about it first! My immediate thought as the final credits scrolled was "I need to see that again tomorrow!" It's tempting to say Trance is Danny Boyle's finest offering yet, but that would be a disservice to the brilliance of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later et al. It isn't going to hit the general populace in the way Slumdog Millionaire did, mostly because it isn't an 'easy' film they can sit back and be entertained by. Trance requires a great deal more thought and investment on the viewer's part to fully appreciate the experience than any of Boyle's previous films, but the rewards are great for those who make the effort. Simon (James McAvoy) is a good guy, if a little nerdish, who works at a major art auction house. When a gang aims to steal a £20 million painting, he endeavours to follow protocol by slipping the painting in the safe, but things don't go according to plan and the painting disappears. Gang leader Franck (Vincent Cassell) is far from joyous and opts to torture the information out of Simon. The trouble is, Simon is suffering a severe case of amnesia following a crack on the head by a wall. Then Franck hits upon the idea of recruiting a hypnotherapist to unlock Simon's memories and reality starts bending. Trance is a head spin, but that's the greatest attraction of it. If Inception ticked all your boxes this, though an entirely different subject matter, will be a ride you'll thoroughly enjoy. Forget Oscar-winning effects, Trance is stylish and absolutely engrossing without them, relying instead on good performances and a detailed, complex and absorbing screenplay. Ten years ago, Trance would have starred Ewan McGregor and often it feels as though Joe Ahearne and John Hodge have written with him once again in mind, but James McAvoy makes Simon his own and, yes, he does atone for his laziness in last week's Welcome to the Punch. McAvoy is on riveting form here as a character who seems at ease with his work and life only for confusion and panic to take over and then, as his mind is probed, something else entirely to emerge. Boyle has crafted some of the finest character evolution we've seen on the big screen for years, not only from McAvoy but from also Rosairo Dawson, in particular. Her hypnotherapist Elizabeth is beautifully performed; at first controlled and elegant but her subtle glances and facial twitches suggest a strength of character not to be messed with. Cassell is, as always, bang on the money as the crook with a brain and a stomach for aggression when required. He's one of 'those' actors who crops up in all manner of films and can always be relied upon to add gravitas and, occasionally, an air of menace that might steal the film from under the principals' noses, but neither the strength of their own performances nor the skill of the director allows that to derail this stunning feast for the brain cells. Though the focus is, naturally, on the trio of stars, the supporting actors in Trance are gifted parts and dialogue they can breath life into and many of them could easily take control of the scenario if the screenplay dictated. Danny Sapani (Nate), a TV stalwart of staples (The Bill) and gems (Misfits) alike lands a rare film role that must surely lead to a greater presence on the big screen and, though credited simply as 'Young Woman in Red Car', Tuppence Middleton seizes our attention with her brief moments in the limelight. With the lead in Trap for Cinderella in the can, two Pierce Brosnan films (Love Punch and A Long Way Down) slated for release later this year and currently shooting the Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending, Middleton is an actor to keep a close eye on. But no matter how good the actors, they cannot hope to save a film if the screenplay and direction have gone AWOL, W.E. being a recent case in point. In Trance they have the best possible opportunity to shine because Boyle is on fire here. He weaves his story around an intricate structure of rabbit holes and avenues that many people won't get, understand or cope with. So switch on your brain, absorb the music, open your eyes and start running with it. It's a hell of a ride and worth every effort. For more reviews from The Squiss, subscribe to my blog and like the Facebook page.
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Just read my awful review.
lozfest7 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When Danny Boyle's not orchestrating Olympic Ceremonies, he's making moving picture thingies called "films". Trance is his latest Apple iPad commercial… I mean film, starring that bloke off of Shameless, a French Chris Martin and that naked actress from Alexander. In all seriousness, the film stars pretty boy James McAvoy as Simon, a fine-art auctioneer. Due to gambling debts, he becomes involved with bully and Mob leader Franck, played wonderfully by Vincent Cassel. The two pair up to steal an outrageously priced painting from within Simon's own gallery. After a failed endeavour at double-crossing, he develops amnesia after a meaty blow to the head from Franck's subtle gun choice of a shotgun. In order to regain the lost memory of the painting's location, the gang sends Simon to sexy yet audacious hypnotist Elizabeth (played nude by Rosario Whatshert*ts).

The opening sequence begins with a narration from McAvoy, a stylistic choice that is subsequently abandoned and doesn't return to resolve the film after eloquently opening it. This first sequence is reminiscent of a discarded episode of BBC's dangerously underrated Hustle: the heist-gone-wrong plot along with the exterior backdrop of London makes it difficult to draw comparisons. However, the film can't seem to make its mind up about what genre it is. It's heist, it's action, and then it's an unconvincing love triangle between the three main characters.

But towards the end of the film, the audience is treated to the most ridiculous plot twist since M. Night Shyamalan's Twister. Simon discovers that he has had already had a lengthy relationship with Elizabeth, but she had removed all memory of herself after a measly one hour session - because that's how the brain works. Put down that Freud or neuroscience bulls**t, and pick up a fresh copy of Hypnotism for Dummies!

The film ends with an ambiguous Inception-esque shot of Franck deciding whether Elizabeth removes all memory of her, as she did with Simon. At this point, the audience is still scratching their head over the last 30 minutes of the film they haven't even begun to process let alone comprehend the next mind f**k. The film's contrived style struggles to support itself on a tenuous plot that is disguised as the most complex plot since Primer. Yet Primer is a perfect example of how low budget and subtlety can be used to great effect, whereas Trance ignores potential for substance in favour of generic action and Bay-splosions. One violent sequence, in which one of Franck's droogs gets his poor b*ll*cks blow to kingdom come, resembles a Quentin Tarantino film parodying a Quentin Tarantino film.

There's no denying Trance is an adrenaline fuelled ride, with the sheer number of twists and turns you'd think you were watching Thorpe Park: The Movie. But a film doesn't need to be highly convoluted in order for it to be interesting and enjoyable. Akin to Nolan's masterful Memento, the film demands multiple viewings. Except instead of it getting better, you gradually realise how shallow and lacking of substance it is. Of course I shouldn't be expecting an intellectual experience on the level of bl**dy 2001: A Space Odyssey, but to have Boyle, a mainstream filmmaker, representing Britain, seems like an insult when we have superb filmmakers such as Chris Morris, Mike Leigh and Shane Meadows who don't get the recognition they deserve while this hack gets a free handj0b from cinephiles across the country. His most critically acclaimed Trainspotting is undeniably a great film, but Boyle seems to come across to me as extremely hit-and-miss. The equally acclaimed and financially successful Slumdog Millionaire is also a good film, but an overpraised 2-hour preach-fest. There's also 127 hours, which feels like you're sat there for 127 hours watching some poor s*d p*ss in his mouth and hack through his arm with a plastic army knife. But back to Trance.

The film is so stylistically incoherent; you'd think they had a new director every 10 minutes. As with most recent Boyle films, they do not have a specific style or themes to them. He is the British equivalent of Ron Howard: if you were to watch Apollo 13 and The DaVinci Code, you'd have no idea they were directed by the same person, they could have been made by anyone. Although, in a desperate bid to add slick and quirky style to the film, the Director of Photography appears to have had an epileptic fit while setting up every shot, resulting in an abundance of hideous canted angles. This, along with the use of an emphatic electronic score, leads you to believe you are engaging with the film in a cathartic manner. But it's not really Boyle doing this, or the films surprisingly stellar performances, but the obtrusive and overpowering music serving to compensate for the director's inability to convey emotions to the audience. (In contrast to this, 28 Days Later's penultimate sequence executes this beautifully). But it's not just the aesthetic qualities that should be under attack.

The film shifts between the protagonists, questioning who is really the moral guidance of the film. Elizabeth's motives for using Simon and Franck are virtually non-existent, so the audience has to either root for a greedy French tw*t, or a whimpering martyr. The characters are so one dimensional, it's as if they were picked out from a box of Joe Carnahan's discarded clichés. Franck's gang are a bunch of moronic t*ts whose stupid comedic antics seem out of place in a film that is trying to take itself seriously. In fact, the whole mob concept is so unconvincing it entirely destroys any immersion you had, along with the preposterously effective hypnosis from Rosario Dawson's steaming hot naked body… I mean mouth. As in words.

But who cares what I think? I'm just a m*r*n with an inflated sense of self-importance and a keyboard. Watch the film for yourself, well don't actually. Watch something good instead.
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this is bad
bruce-223-9783956 July 2013
i don't generally write reviews but if you are in this for a compelling story look somewhere else. this movie builds and builds to a complete let down. i am not a huge fan of pretentious subtext so maybe it was lost on me but i was really disappointed with how this story wrapped itself up.. pun intended.

its not really a one but so many people voted this up i really had high expectations.

the sad thing is it has a great cast and a good premise but i wanted to go down the rabbit with oooohs and aaaahhhhs ... and i didn't see that coming... and while there are a few twists there is no way to predict them and if you try an average imagination will produce something far more creative then what happens in the movie.
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If you're a Boyle fan lower your expectations a little.
Buscatcher29 March 2013
James Mcavoy is back on form after the dismal Welcome To The Punch. He is Simon who works for a fine art auction house, where one of his duties is to whisk away to a deep vault the most valuable artwork in the event of any attempted robbery. Of course their is a robbery, masterminded by Franck played by Vincent Cassels, the only problem is he has stolen a picture frame but no canvas. Simon is hit on the head during the robbery causing amnesia and cannot remember what happened to the canvas. Franck isn't too chuffed about this so employs Elizabeth - Rosario Dawson a hypnotist to delve into Simon's mind to find where he may have secreted the artwork.

For at least the first half I was gripped by the plot and characters plus Boyles camera work is spot on as always. I did however feel completely puzzled at one point when the plot seemed to zig-zag a bit too much and I began to wonder whether I had lost concentration. I wasn't being dim however because at this point one of the characters explains (in flashback) what's going on.

Although an adequate enough watch this was for me a below par Boyle movie. But I suppose with a back catalogue including two of my top ten films he can be excused for not 'hitting a coconut every time'. Overall I was not disappointed to have caught the bus to view this and neither should you be. If you are a Boyle fan just lower your expectations a little.
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But no piece of art is worth a human life...
hitchcockthelegend3 April 2013
Trance is directed by Danny Boyle and adapted to screenplay by John Hodge from Joe Ahearne's film of the same name from 2001. It stars James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson. Music is scored by Rick Smith and cinematography is by Anthony Dod Mantle.

Art auctioneer worker Simon (McAvoy) does the double-cross on Franck (Cassel), his partner in an art heist, but after taking a blow to the head suffers amnesia and can't recall where he has hidden a stolen Goya masterpiece. Franck and his thug side-kicks decide to send Simon to hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Dawson) in the hope of unlocking the painting's hiding place. However, once the therapy starts, secrets come tumbling out and nothing is ever as it at first seems.

Already this early in the day after the film's release, we know for certain that Danny Boyle's foray into neo-noir is going to split his fan base considerably. Admired for his ability to turn his hand at any genre he fancies, Boyle reaches back to his earlier movies and comes up with a mind bending neo-noir that crackles with the kind of sexual edginess that Paul Verhoeven thrived upon. It sounds snobbish I know, and I have been called a neo-noir snob recently, but if all things noir are not your thing then this really is a film you should stay away from. Think Basic Instinct meets Inception and they take out a 40s Heist movie for drinks and you get an idea where we are at with Trance.

All the hallmarks of noir, both neo and conventional classics, are evident here, from characterisations to visual smarts, it's a noir head's dream and very much a must see on the big screen or on Blu-ray formats. Forget any notion of having someone to root for in this, there is scarcely a decent human bone on show. Characters are either fuelled by greed, lust, jealousy or vengeance, or quite simply just not smart enough to operate in the circles they move in. Amnesia is a key component of the story, something which again features a lot in olde noir, as does the central character being a complete dupe...To expand upon more would be stupid of me, the less you know the better it actually is upon first viewing. It really is a difficult film to discuss without delving into why it is such a trippy and deliciously cheeky piece of film. That's not to say that narratively it's smarter than a brain pie, because that's not the case. For as the threads untangle, several times, the mind meld aspect will fall apart if plot dissection is your thing? Also cramming so much "brain food" into the last quarter of film kind of feels like too much, overkill if you will. While Franck's side-kick bad boys are irritatingly disposable. Yet it's a film that begs to be seen more than once, twice, thrice even...

Visually it's superlative, it's clear that Boyle and Mantle know and admire noir's visual splendours, with an awareness of atmospheric importance (noir is an atmosphere, not a genre. There's the snob in me again!) pulsing throughout. Set in London but filmed out of Dungeness in Kent, the backdrop is a city of steel and mirrors, a thriving city of wealth and mistrust. The tricks of the trade are here but never once is it style over substance, the visual ticks matter to the narrative. Night time overhead shots of a bustling city come and go, different colour tones for different character's apartments are clever, oblique camera angles ensure distortion of frame is equal to distortion of antagonists/protagonists minds (whose trance is this, really?...). Smudgey silhouettes through bronze glass, outrageous POV shots and caressing camera shots of the human form, no shot is wasted in the name of adding detail. Rest assured, Boyle brings his "A" game here. All of which is covered over by Smith's slow rumbling score that acts as a foreboding observer ready to unleash itself when the carnage begins.

The three principal actors come out firing and clearly are enjoying themselves. McAvoy cements his "A" list credentials with a multi layered performance, Cassel is as usual a mighty presence and Dawson, in a bold role, does her best work so far and hints she's ready to move into the big league. While it has to be noted that all three actors have to play their cards very close to their chests throughout; and do so admirably. Boyle's action construction is kinetic, with the pre-credits sequence one of the best opening sequences lately, and Hodge's script has a playfulness about it that ensures those paying attention know the film is self-mocking and not taking itself half as seriously as some film fans seem to think. An audience splitter it is sure to be, but for those with a bent for noirish sexy mind bending heist capers? Get in there! 9/10
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Absolutely awful.
Adam Frisch19 April 2013
What happened Danny? The terrible lighting, the cheesy dutch angles, the too wide lenses, the awful production design and worst of all that incessant trance music from your acid raves in the 90's. Too loud, too much, always on - like a bad EPK. Add to this a terrible script and the mind numbing boringness of hypnosis and "messing with your brain"-narrative. Granted, this is my personal hangup - and the trailer clearly showed as much, so I can't blame that - but it's just so boring to hinge a story on, precisely because there are no boundaries. Constraints add suspense. It's like listening to people go on and on about their dreams. Who cares? If it had been a straight whodunnit art heist movie, it would have been ten times better. At least then it would have had purpose.

I also read in reviews how everyone thinks this is Rosario Dawson's best role. Did we watch the same movie, I wonder? I love the girl, but here she was at best phoning it in from another galaxy. Everyone else is just about passable at best, perhaps disillusioned by the terrible premise of it all. Shame with such actors like Cassel etc. I wish I could give this more than 1 star, but I can't. I like you Danny Boyle, but this was the first movie in over 10 years where I asked my mate if we could leave after 30 minutes. He didn't, so I had to sit through the whole mess until the end.
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Danny Boyle Excels Once Again
freemantle_uk5 April 2013
Danny Boyle has had a bumper few years, earning an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, making his dream project, 127 Hours and earned massive praise for the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony. After years away, he has returned to making a British set film with Trance, which pleases as both a mainstream crime-thriller and a more cerebral psychological thriller. At a London art auction, Frank (Vincent Cassel) and his crew attempt to steal a painting valued at $25 Million. Simon (James McAvoy) is hailed as a hero when he tries to stop the heist and gets hit in the head for trouble. But Simon was the inside man for the heist and suffers amnesia, due to the blow he received during the action. When Frank discovers he does not have the painting, he becomes determined to find out where it is, by any means necessary. When torturing Simon does not work, Frank turns to more unusual techniques and makes Simon see a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) and forces everyone involved down a dark and twisted path. Boyle reunites with writer John Hodge and Trance does feel very much like an early Boyle film. Like Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, Trance focuses on people on the fringes of the criminal world, who get embroiled into much wider scheme and get in over their heads. The film starts with a great heist sequence and has at the start a slightly darker comic tone before turning into a fast paced thriller. As expected Trance has all the visual flair you want from a Danny Boyle film, with all the cross cutting between flashbacks and the present time and Boyle does gets to play around with the dreamscape. Trance also serves as a great example of how a music score can amplify the action on the screen, being a fast and pumping when the action picks up to being calm and tranquil for the hypnotist sequences. Boyle does get to audience absorbed into his dream worlds with his use lens flare, camera movement and music. Trance is similar to other thrillers like Memento and The Machinist, twisting and turning constantly. Boyle starts the film as a heist flick and then slowly turns the genre gears and turns the film into a psychological thriller. Like Christopher Nolan, Boyle and his writers set out to explore themes of memories, relationships, manipulation and trust and it was done to an expect level. Throughout the film, it changes courses constantly, leaving to the audience guessing: but Boyle and the writers do leave some clues about the eventual ending and I am sure there's more to the film, during a second viewing. The characters themselves are also enigmas, as their motivations change and we get to see more pieces of the puzzle. Simon starts off as a victim but as the film progresses, we see his dark and twisted side and McAvoy effectively brings this out of his character. He was much better fitted for this role, than his recent action anti-hero role in Welcome to the Punch. On a whole, the characters are generally unsympathetic and the film constantly shifts both its focus and who the audience should root for. But added to the film's theme of who we are meant to trust as relationships, the motives in the film that shift along coincide with its themes and makes some sense overall. Whilst Trance is a fun ride, people might begin to see multiple plot holes and raise questions about how characters know certain actions and reactions were going to happen. But it can be argued that The Dark Knight Rises had plot problems, if you held it to any form of analysis and people still enjoyed that film. The aim of Boyle and the writers was to focus on the themes and how the puzzle fit together once you get more information, even if the foundation itself is a little shaky. Trance is a highly entertaining and engaging crime and psychological thriller. It is a fun ride as it brinks through its 101 minute running time. Whilst there are some logic and logistical problems in the plot when everything is revealed, it is still a well made film that explores the themes of memory, trust and the framework of the mind. Fans of Boyle's previous work will certainly be pleased.
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A bendy mind twister
rivertam2616 April 2013
Danny Boyle's films are a mixed bag. On the one hand you have amazing efforts such as 28 Days later and Trainspotting and on the other you have Shallow Grave and the Beach. He's never made a bad film in my opinion and they are always interesting even if they feel a bit convoluted or gimmicky. On his best days his films can feel whimsical and transcendent like Millions and A Life Less Ordinary and than sometimes they can feel a little to Oscar baity like 127 hours and slumdog millionaire. Trance falls nicely in line with these films and towards the top I might add. At the center of the film is a ho hum concept about a somewhat successful heist and the twistiness that surrounds it. The films overall effect relies on your acceptance on the believability of Hynopsis but in the end it's a beautifully crafted ride. Stocked with truly memorable visuals and some truly wonderful cinematography. From the creative lighting and color combinations to the inspired use of shadows and reflections, it is truly something to behold. Speaking of something to behold I must give credit where it is due and although james McAvoy's nude scene is impressive Rosario Dawson just blows him away in that department. Who knew she had such an amazing body it truly needs to be seen to be believed. Now all of that being said on the downside the film makes some big promises that any film would have a problem living up to. At times it comes across way more complex and intelligent that it ends up being. But like his earlier works Trance is a solid, memorable techno thriller that works as a bendy mind twister that mostly delivers. 4/5
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Euro-Rave Neo-Noir by Danny Boyle
Degree728 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
No piece of art is worth a human life... or is it? This is the maguffin that drives Danny Boyle's Trance from the get-go, although the film makes nice use of its set up as a heist caper involving a priceless Rembrandt painting being stolen as part of an inside job by local art gallery security guard Frank (James McAvoy). Eventually the story introduces a femme fatale, played a little blandly by Rosario Dawson, who it turns out has a personal stake in helping local London gangsters (head honcho played by Vincent Cassell) retrieve the location of said-painting from Frank's amnesia-ridden cranium following an impromptu blow to the head after the robbery.

The film then goes on to introduce some foreseeable twists that all rely on the viewer having some kind of willing suspension of disbelief for the concept of hypnosis. Twists that can can be construed to make have a writer do whatever he wanted the characters to do. By the end of the film, the plot had morphed from a heist film, into a psychological exploration of the human mind, to finally some kind of misogynistic revenge tale of an abused woman working over some cosmopolitan morons. Along the way, our hero turns from an ambiguous protagonist, to an anti-hero, to a straight up jerk. Eventually we're so damn confused as to what we the audience or the other characters saw in him in the first place that no one's sure whether to feel sorry for the poor bastard or reflect on how much he had it coming.

All of this, of course, is related to the viewer ad-nauseum through repeated flash backs with Rosario Dawson's mind numbing narration having to explain every motivation and important piece of back story in what feels like a lazy way for the story to write itself out of corners.

The problem is that the character that all these decisions and plot twists hinge on, played by Rosario Dawson, is in no way relatable in what should be a damaged role that emotes sympathy. Instead she just comes off as vindictive, manipulative, and greedy. Perhaps an example of the writers not understanding women at all, other than to portray them as a walking pair of picturesque feminine nudity at crucial moments when the viewer might be getting a tad bored. To jolt them back to attention, so to speak. Clever. Very clever.

So why the 6 stars then? Because Danny Boyle is a visual genius, that's why. The film is as much a piece of post-modern, transitive art in the looks department like Boyle's other films, 'The Beach', 'Trainspotting', and 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Overrall though, it's a lesser Boyle effort, and one that won't be making the rounds in his talked about catalogue any time soon, or ever. The cinematography and the soundtrack are top notch, but the plot suffers greatly for it, for some reason. Needed some rewrites.

(Also, how is no one going to recognize the stink of a dead body in the trunk of a car after months of being trapped in there? The odour would be palpable even 50 feet away)
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Not convincing
ospin2918 August 2013
At a London art auction, Frank (Vincent Cassel) and his crew attempt to steal a painting valued at $25 Million. Simon (James McAvoy) is hailed as a hero when he tries to stop the heist and gets hit in the head for trouble. But Simon was the inside man for the heist and suffers amnesia, due to the blow he received during the action. When Frank discovers he does not have the painting, he becomes determined to find out where it is, by any means necessary. When torturing Simon does not work, Frank turns to more unusual techniques and makes Simon see a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) and forces everyone involved down a dark and twisted path.

This film leaves me with the feeling that the story was more directed to create an impact in the viewer instead to make sense, make logical and have a good rhythm.
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