The mind is such a complex and powerful thing, it can play tricks on us at every turn and can be manipulated quite well by those with the skill to do it. “Trance” is a complex and intense thriller set in the art world where we are never quite sure what the truth is and what is simply locked in the complex mazes of our mind as so many different elements and genres collide against each other.
In the heart of London, Simon (James McAvoy) an art auctioneer becomes mixed up with a group of criminals led by the charismatic Franck (Vincent Cassel) who talk him into helping them steal a multimillion dollar painting. However during the heist, Simon suffers a severe concussion and can’t remember where he stashed the painting. With nowhere else to turn, they enlist the help of a beautiful hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson)to crack open Simon’s mind so they can all get paid.
After trips mountain climbing, in the land of Bollywood and directing the Olympics, director Danny Boyle returns to the crime thriller genre made him his bread and butter from day one with some decent all be mildly convoluted results. A technically stunning and visually marvelous film, Boyle shoots the hell out of the streets and back alleys of London giving it a gritty yet techno neon on feel that keeps us as an audience on our toes from minute one. The narrative is admittedly a little messy, but that is the ultimate point, as Boyle makes us punch drunk with plot twists and character turns that your opinions of various characters will probably do a 180 from the beginning of the film keeping us always on edge. Boyle does admittedly lay it on a little too thick as the story keeps going in another and then yet another direction trying to be as showy as he can but he successfully keeps engaged as we work are way to a satisfying ending. A film like this could have easily fallen apart given how many directions the main characters have to travel in, but these solid leads managed to keep it all together.
James McAvoy works fairly well playing it sympathetic and a little sleazy all at the same time and for the most part makes a likeable and believable pathetic little dirt bag with a gambling problem that will effectively draw compassion from the audience. It takes a unique skill set to play pathetic, heroic and deplorable in the same scene but McAvoy can do it. Vincent Cassel is consistently underrated in films and here he makes the suave and cool Franck work for him as it is equal parts menacing, yet likeable and fun too. Rosario Dawson bares it all (quite literally) as the devious yet emotionally fragile psychotherapist Elizabeth in a memorable turn and has great on screen chemistry with both McAvoy and Cassel making for an interesting dynamic all around.
The picture and the sound on the Blu-Ray simply immaculate and the special features include an extensive ‘making of’ for “Trance”, deleted scenes, a retrospective of the films of Danny Boyle and a short film called “Eugene” by Spencer Susser.
“Trance” isn’t Danny Boyle’s best film, but it is a fascinating cinematic experience at the nature of memory and obsession as this is easily a film that will reveal multiple layers for audiences on repeat viewings.
4 out of 5 stars.
“Trance” is now available to rent on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers, you can also find it available for purchase from retailers like iTunes, HMV or amazon.ca.
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