Trance (2013) Poster

(I) (2013)

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sort of a suspense film turned horror
blanche-213 July 2014
Danny Boyle, a renowned director of stage and screen, not to mention a writer, directed the 2014 "Trance" -- and from a brief look at the reviews, people either loved it or hated it.

I hated it.

I'm always fascinated by films about art heists, but this time, I felt let down. That's not to take away from the originality of the story, but for me, it became too convoluted.

In London, an auctioneer, Simon Newton (James McAvoy), helps a gang, headed by a man named Franck, to steal a valuable painting at the auction house. Simon gets into a car accident and claims not to remember where he hid the painting. The gang sends him to a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson), under an assumed name, and record him -- he doesn't say he's looking for this painting, obviously, since it's all over the news, so he says he's looking for his keys.

The hypnotherapist turns out to be quite a character, and one can't really tell for a time if she's in league with the gang or trying to help Simon, as she plays both sides. It all gets kind of crazy from there, with murders, sex, car chases and hypnosis.

I love the plot, and normally, I like a complicated, involved story, but I admit that after a while, I gave up and didn't know what was happening. It reminded me a tiny bit of Memento, but that film was a lot more straightforward. This movie started out suspense and toward the end turned into a crazy horror movie.

The acting was good, with perhaps the exception of Rosario Dawson. First of all, she had an impossible role. Secondly, I am absolutely certain that in some scenes she didn't know what her attitude was supposed to be. It's not too much of a stretch that these actors lost their way in the script as well. I can't imagine anyone having to sit down and read it.

I think Danny Boyle is one of those people who, when he's good, he's fabulous, and when he's less than that, he's confusing.
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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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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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Tries too hard to be complex
grantss10 April 2014
Overwrought psychological crime-drama movie. Director Danny Boyle tries too hard to make the movie complex. So we have twist after twist, just for twist's sake. By the end you have no idea what is real or what is not, what happened and what was in a character's mind.

Not all bad - it was intriguing in spells. However, just when you start to enjoy it and think it may not be as bad as you thought, another twist comes which screws all that up.

Plot is not that watertight anyway. Several points where things just didn't gel. Maybe that's the idea of all the twists - take your mind off the plot holes.

Performances are mostly OK. James McAvoy and Vincent Cassell are fine in their roles. However, Rosario Dawson is unconvincing in her role. More a miscasting: she is not a femme fatale.
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Leofwine_draca30 May 2015
A meagre film, both in terms of execution and narrative stylistics. As ever, the presence of director Danny Boyle is one of the worst things about this production: he's like a kid who's just opened a box of toys and is eager to show them off to all and sundry. Boyle saturates his movie with deep colours, snappy editing, heavy, thumping techno music that drowns out the dialogue and sound; basically overworking it for all his worth. It's like an old man trying to be hip and down with the kids, and it doesn't work, it's embarrassing.

Not that the story is exceptional to begin with: it involves a young auctioneer who's involved in the robbery of a priceless Rembrandt painting by a gang of thieves; the painting goes missing and only he knows where it is, but thanks to a bump on the head he can't remember. Cue the intervention of a pretty psychiatrist to try to help him out.

This is billed as the British INCEPTION but it's nowhere near as good as that film; for a thriller it's almost entirely boring, with a long and saggy mid-section that goes nowhere. McAvoy is okay playing the unlikeable lead, but the real scene stealer here is Vincent Cassel, and at least he bags at least one good scene. The main focus of the film is on the nude and lithe Rosario Dawson, who Boyle is clearly besotted with (the two were dating in real life at the time).

Come the end and the expected twist ending, I have to say that TRANCE is completely unbelievable: a film packed with plot contrivances, incredible jumps in logic, and a back story that makes absolutely no sense if you sit down and think about it. It's like there was a good story rooted in here somewhere, trying desperately to get out, but the scriptwriters just couldn't find it in the end.
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a visual & auditory feast
jukangliwayway17 July 2013
The first 40 minutes, I was excited & impressed. I like James McAvoy, I think he's a really good & charismatic actor. And Vincent Cassel, in my opinion, always delivers. The movie pumps you up with an intriguing storyline, flashy & artsy camera shots & angles, thrilling scenes backed up with a really good musical score. Then enter Rosario Dawson. It has been a steady downward spiral from that point on. No, it's not because of her, although I thought she looked a bit tired 90 % of the film. It's the plot and the shameful use of hypnotherapy as the driving force of the whole movie. Hypnotherapy as the structure of the movie? That makes the plot shaky at best. The moment Rosario inserted herself in the scheme I found myself shaking my head more and more.

Trance almost had everything that makes a movie work. Good cast, great direction, interesting cameraworks, good editing, stylish neo-noir execution, and really great music. Unfortunately, like poor Tin Man without the heart and The Lion without courage, this one has a weak script which essentially takes away the soul of the movie. It's a classic case of style-over-substance, easily disguised as a mind-bending intellectual movie with the use of "is this real?" sequences, change of perspective, and thrill rides, that can masterfully dupe the audience into thinking that they're watching Leo with a Spotless Mind.

Danny Boyle has style, that's for sure, but he should have given equal attention to the plot as he did to his camera shots & artsy vibe of the whole film. It's not at all bad, the music and style is enough reason to enjoy this movie and send you in a 100-minute trance-like state, but after the credits roll, like a snap of a finger, you wake up after that trippy ride, shake your head, look around, and mutter, "Seriously?"
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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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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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Heist Flick With A Twist
AudioFileZ28 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Certainly the heist movie is a staple for film. The usual involves money, jewels, art, or a combination. As film has progressed the stories involved seem to get more elaborate…and, stretch credibility. Style over substance, if you will. It may be what movie-goers want – action and high-tech trickery usually equal a crime caper that scores at the box-office. Still, the cerebral, more realistic, heist movie begs to continually be revisited, if modernized.

Trance seeks to weave a more simple and believable, greatly thought-out and orchestrated, heist gone wrong saga. Celebrated director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire among others) gives his vision the less glitzy (i.e. grittier) atmosphere on which to build believability. Casting James McAvoy as the protagonist is in keeping with that view as he is a versatile dramatic lead with believability and bank ability, not to mention he's quite a talent.

An esteemed auction house in the midst of the sale of a super rare and expensive painting provides the crime scene. But first we are introduced to McElvoy's character, Simon, who as part of the auction house's security is responsible for removal, if possible without risk to life, of whatever valuable object is being sold. As expected an orchestrated heist ensues. Simon does his job, with a slight glitch in which he uses a stun-gun to momentarily incapacitate the robber, Franck, played by the very ominously excellent Vincent Cassel. It appears, when Franck recovers, that Simon's move to save the day was misplaced and his life is spared by, perhaps, only Franck's desire to not have blood on his hands. Franck knocks Simon out which later, in the hospital recovering, Simon is celebrated as a "would-be" hero in spite of the great loss. Oh yeah, when Franck opens the case the painting, "Witches In The Air", should be in the frame is empty.

So far, this is by the book as far as these things go, but that will change. Simon comes home to a "tossed" condo and is in trouble with the would-be robbers. He can save a lot of trouble by telling Franck where he hid the painting. One major obstacle here is Simon is suffering from amnesia. If he did hide the painting he has now hidden it from himself too. Some creative writing follows which at a few critical points may stretch the otherwise dark realism for some. If you're "on-board" however you choose to revel in the quite complicated story and see it through. It is a true different "twist" on this type of thing – while it may stumble somewhat it doesn't give itself up early-on at all and has an unexpected resolution which may, or may not, be satisfying to all. In the end it is worth watching, however, as taking the other fork in the road to a genre that is somewhat hackneyed keeps one invested. Trance is not as good as the best this director is capable of, though quite interesting, is obvious.
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No, you won't guess this one, unless you're psychic
JohnRayPeterson22 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Art auctioneer Simon, played by James McAvoy is involved, deeply, in the heist of a multi-million dollar painting. It takes a while to get to the reason of his involvement, but that bit is the easiest you'll have to contend with. At the risk of spoiling some of the plot, I'll go ahead and let you in on the part where he intended to double-cross a gang of thieves, and in so doing he gets hit in the head trying, successfully, to prevent his cohorts, the thieves in question, from finding out too soon. The head injury, and perhaps getting hit by a car as he was getting away, landed him in the hospital with, you guessed it, lost memory; where he hid the painting is of course now the mystery, or is it? His partners in crime were none too appreciative of his treachery and so spare little efforts to shake that memory loose; the leader of the gang, Franck, played by Vincent Cassel, was resourceful, to say the least, in how he went about that, but nothing worked, until he figures that hypnotherapy might just be the solution.

Then the plot thickens, quite a bit, because the therapist Elizabeth, played by the stunning Rosario Dawson, is a character, a most fascinating one, whose depth, cunning and determination has no equal, not even for the likes of Frank and his gang. She and Simon have history; but to discover that history is the whole adventure. Hypnosis is suggestion and who is subjected to it but the audience. It does get messy at times, unless you keep in mind that characters, well Simon at least, are in a trance, subconscious in nature.

You'll wonder if Elizabeth is not the mastermind; she might, I won't say. That is one of the reasons I liked this movie, the twists and turns. McAvoy and Cassel are performing just like you would expect actors of their calibre would; as for Dawson, well she impressed me something like Halle Berry did in the movie Monster's Ball. If you have a limited attention span or if you like your thrillers less messy, this movie is not for you. The usually friendly McAvoy character is, as it turns out not a nice guy, and the opposite holds true for Cassel, and that was refreshing. You will likely use the rewind button with Rosario Dawson; I won't believe you if you say you didn't.
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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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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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A Nutshell Review: Trance
DICK STEEL5 May 2013
To say that Trance is this year's Inception, is to do either films a disservice. But if I were to lean toward a preference, then Danny Boyle's latest movie has an edge for being succinct in its tale, little loopholes and while fewer characters, is no less complex, but equally stylish in treatment, and bold in its story-telling, dealing with the premise of a heist gone wrong, and hypnosis being the last resort to get into the deepest recesses of the mind for the secrets it harbours.

James McAvoy is probably in one of his best roles yet, opening the film as Simon, an art auctioneer who apparently has reasons to turn corrupt, giving the lowdown on the security measures on how to secure the most valuable art piece of the session in the event of an interruption of the process. And lo and behold, a team led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) comes in forcefully to seize that same valuable asset, only for Simon to have hidden it away both physically and psychologically into his mind, that it seemed a peek into his subconscious would be necessary to unlock the location of the stolen painting. Enter Rosario Dawson's Elizabeth, a hypnotist with skills so sublime, she can lull you into anything if your guard is not tip top.

But you know I'm just scratching the surface of the premise, because even understanding the premise will take away the fun you would experience when watching the narrative unfold. What worked here is the multiple perspectives and shifts in the narrative that Danny Boyle puts you under, being the real mastermind and hypnotist at work in lulling us the audience into lapping up just about everything being thrown at us. Who you thought was the lead in the film, gave way to some other character, and then more, putting you in a spot, yet being terribly engaging from start to finish that you'd want to have a go at the story again, being enlightened the second time round as to who the real puppet master was.

Credit has to go to writers Joe Ahearne and John Hodge, the former who was responsible for an earlier television movie of the same name in which this film was partially based upon. What I love about the film, is that everything was neatly planned, and didn't entail crafting escape clauses for itself for a less than well thought out narrative. Everything was in place from the start, and the movie magic came from astute direction and intricate editing to shift perspectives, chronology and the like, together with absolutely wonderful performances from all three main leads to pull off this psychological thriller.

Danny Boyle once again proves to be one of the most eclectic filmmakers of this generation, taking on varied genres without a bat in the eyelid, and delivering impressive results in coming up with a film's powerful imagery, with that knack of blending in a top notch soundtrack, and coaxing stellar performances from his cast. Trance becomes that fine balance of substance and style, extremely well made, and very much less confusing than Inception, but no less complex in execution.

James McAvoy retains his boyish qualities while contrasting that with darker emotions that hasn't been seen in most of the films he had starred in. Vincent Cassel is no stranger to playing morally shady characters, and his chief instigator and mastermind being the heist could have been a walk in the park role, but once again he brings an edge to the character like none other, if not for his experience. And the surprise performance of all was Rosario Dawson. She's been in the industry for sometime already, but nothing really stood out until now. Not to mention it being one of her boldest acts yet, and the sacrifice having to really bare herself on screen.

There are many layers to this film than I dare reveal, but let's just say at its core, I'm buying into its love story about the dangers of obsession, which touched upon a raw nerve in how perverted it developed into, and how it enveloped all motivations of the players involved. The twists and turns in the last half hour will leave you breathless, filled with some gory moments that's quite Cronenberg-like. A definite recommend for its all round solid approach, and it's little wonder if it finds itself in my top films of the year listing.
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A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Danny Boyle's racy crime thriller with a psychological bent
murtaza_mma21 September 2013
The latest film from the Oscar-winning English filmmaker Danny Boyle is a racy crime thriller with a psychological bent. The movie revolves around the life of a debonair art auctioneer, Simon, who inexplicably gets mixed up with a group of ferocious criminals.

The criminals reluctantly partners with a sensual hypnotherapist whose job is to dig deep into Simon's mind and find out the whereabouts of a lost painting. Trance plays with the subconscious memory in the vein of movies like Inception and Shutter Island, but somewhat falls short of attaining the same level of brilliance.

Trance stars James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson in major roles. While McAvoy delivers his best performance ever, Dawson is a treat for the sore eyes. While Cassel is solid as usual, film aficionados just can't help but expect more from the veteran French actor.

Boyle's direction is topnotch and barring a few glitches the movie manages to deliver a powerful punch. The movie is quite high on eroticism and nudity but none of it appears to be extraneous. A must watch for the lovers of the genre!

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thesar-225 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Take a Memento: the Inception of Trance only will get weirder and weirder as it progresses. Try and keep up.

Now, I am a (Director) Danny Boyle fan, as I am of (Director) Christopher Nolan's. What happens when we combine the two styles? Or, more accurately, what happens when Boyle steals from Nolan? Boyle's Trance is the result.

The film, while I did like and, yet, had problems with, was so overshadowed by style, atmosphere and pretentiousness, it was more music video than movie. Sadly, this same thing happened to another favorite Director of mine, Steven Soderbergh. He sacrificed substance for style in his latest films and this knocked him out of my "favorite" Director spot.

I had a sense, in the first half anyways, that Boyle's constant – make that, relentless shift in direction, camera angles, speed, visions…hell, let's just call this an experimental filmmaking, that he had little faith in the story or characters. As the movie progressed, and especially, the last third, it's clear that there was a fun and interesting story that emerged amongst the chaos. Now, it's pretty much Memento meets Inception, but still enjoyable to get to the climax.

Simon (James McAvoy) must regain his memory of what happened to a painting he helped steal in order to repay a gambling debt to Franck (Vincent Cassel,) a somewhat bad man. So, why not employ a hypnotist, Elizabeth (the always wonderful, Rosario Dawson) to dig up those memories of the valuable work of art? But, wait! She might have something up her own sleeve…

The movie cannot be taken all-too-seriously. While it's fun at spots, and seems "well shot" at times, the is-it-real or is-it-The-Matrix tricks work for a while towards the finale, but enough is more than enough with the entire maxed-out and spaced-out camera alterations. A mere 20 minutes in and I was about done with the avant-garde filmmaking. I get it, already! You want to show off some "new moves."

Please focus more on the story and characters and less on where you can put the camera next, Boyle. You've done this many times before: you previously haven't had to impress us that you know how to mix-up cinematography.

Now, it's not an all-around bad or great film, and it's certainly not for everyone. It's for people who like the above referenced films (Memento and Inception) and for things shaken up a bit. The music's good, the performances are good and the outcome is somewhat satisfying, but to get to the conclusion, you'll have to have a lot more patience than I had.

One viewing is best. Here's to hope Boyle focuses less on the artistic vision in his future and more on his storytelling, as he's already displayed.
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Danny Boyle brilliant but reveals way too much too soon
SnoopyStyle30 March 2014
In a well coordinated heist, Franck (Vincent Cassel) leads a team to steal a high priced painting. London auctioneer Simon Newton (James McAvoy) tries to put the painting in a timed vault slot. However Franck catches him and grabs the painting. Only it turned out that the painting has been cut out. Simon has amnesia, and Franck tortures him for it. In order to find out where Simon hid the painting, they randomly select hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to help.

This is a case where Danny Boyle shows his hand too soon. It's almost immediately that we know Elizabeth is in on this somehow. She also figures out something is up with the sessions right away. This means that there is a twist coming without a doubt. And with hypnosis, it's also obvious that Simon is experiencing false reality. The audience finds out too much too early.

There is no doubt that Danny Boyle is a brilliant filmmaker. The heist is exciting and fun. The movie works well for awhile. But it just becomes very boring waiting for him to wrap everything up with an explanation at the end. And it doesn't help that somewhere along the way I lost rooting interest in everybody. I don't understand why Elizabeth would reveal herself so quickly. Wouldn't it make more sense for her not to show her cards considering who Simon is to her? Danny Boyle is great for this one thing. He is such a brilliant man that I didn't really ask questions while watching the movie.
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It has a heavy change in rhythm!!
heavenkey5 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
About this movie I could say that the story was brilliant. Also, there was a good effort to make the movie complex and confusing which is good for a "Trance" film. I think one feeling that is mutual among majority of 'Trance' viewers would be the last 40 minutes of the movie which in it there is a huge change in movie's rhythm and also extreme sexual scenes after a mellow and pacific beginning that is very surprising and in my opinion unnecessary and exorbitance. After all there are some slight points that need to be mentioned often as positive points of the film: Shotgun stroke in the face which is in fact very painful and also it can causes heavy brain damage and it has been observed correctly. Also, the effect of the parking guard reaction on the viewer and making the audience to think what role he is playing in the resumption and being none (notion: every single person could have an effect).
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What the hell have I just watched?
tr9129 July 2013
This has got to be the most confusing film I have ever seen, and yes, I have seen Inception. I only came across this film because it starred James McAvoy, it sounded interesting so I decided to give it a go.

The film starts off straight in the action and is one of them films where you are completely hooked from the start to the finish, even though you're not completely sure what is going on. It got to the point where I didn't know if certain scenes were the present day or flashbacks, truths or lies, I just didn't know, but my God it was gripping. There was also some pretty grim scenes in this film.

In the end it did make more sense but you really have to think about it. I would highly recommend this film to anyone, although I think it may take more than one viewing to really appreciate how good this is.

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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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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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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.

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I'm a big Boyle fan but this is just amateur.
Sergeant_Tibbs26 June 2013
Since my Danny Boyle fandom began in 2007, he's had a great habit of topping himself. Sunshine blew me away and I still enjoy it today, Slumdog Millionaire was an addictive experience and 127 Hours is so incredibly cathartic that it remains right beside Trainspotting in my ranking. He's got enough in his backlog for me to call myself a lifelong fan. But when it comes to Trance, it seems like he's forgotten the last 17 years entirely. I see what he was trying to do here.

I love his debut, Shallow Grave, when I was on my first Danny Boyle high with 4 of his films in my top 10 of all-time, Grave was my favourite. It's Boyle's own favourite. He has the philosophy that a debut film is always the best one because it best represents the energy of a new talent. Perhaps Boyle missed England, he hasn't set a film here since Millions, nearly 10 years ago. The quality of Trance could've been expectable from Boyle back in the 90s, but he has such a better standard than this today that it's not acceptable.

It feels as though the film Boyle would've made to followup Shallow Grave, and then subsequently crashed under the pressure. Like Grave, it features a triptych of immoral characters who seduce, taunt and torture each other to get what they want. There's no-one to root for. But that's okay, Grave made it work, but Trance scrambles its material and sets it in a bizarre world that's dangerous yet comical to the point where it doesn't add up. It wants us to question what's real and what's not real but the "real-world" is so strange that it's already lost me. It does have mystery and it does make me intrigued, but it resolves it in a very contrived way, if unpredictable.

The opening is enjoyable enough but once it gets past the middle, it becomes such a jumbled mess that I don't know what was going on nor do I really care. The huge twists are a step too far and results it in being a visceral and mostly gruesome experience. Better in the sense that it made the story and characters richer but it didn't really improve the film. However, to its credit, it's never boring. It's just ridiculous and confusing. The least you can expect from Boyle is a whirlwind of visuals and music, and while the music delivers as always, the cinematography is really all over the place and doesn't feel cinematic at all. It feels amateur and devoid of atmosphere and character.

It's a film that doesn't know what it wants to be - fun, funny or mind-blowing? It just ends up unpleasant. To be fair, it does deliver some thrills, even if it doesn't really add up or resonate emotionally. And there's some Boyle charm that I love regardless of the packaging. McAvoy and Cassel's performances are great, even if their characters are complete messes. Unfortunately, Dawson doesn't stand up to them, although she starts strong, the more she gets involved, the more out of place she becomes. Very disappointing, his worst, even under Millions and A Life Less Ordinary.

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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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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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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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