Directed by the unique and intense Danny Boyle, best known for films like Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire, Trance is a psychological thriller full of twists, turns, gasps, dead ends and other mind-bending nuances. Overall, while I did enjoy this movie and love this genre, it was pretty confusing, but I’ll get to that later.
The basic gist is that Simon (James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer involved in the black-market business of stealing paintings worth millions. During one of the heists, he attacks his accomplice Franck (Vincent Cassel) and subsequently gets knocked out himself. Franck escapes only to find the painting missing from the frame. When he questions Simon about it, Simon can’t remember what he did with the painting, so he agrees to go to a hypnotist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), to try to help him remember. Trance becomes a roller-coaster ride switching between hypnosis and real life, often without warning, all winding down a rabbit hole to reveal a truth far crazier than anyone could’ve guessed.
One of my favorite aspects of this film was how the plot only thickened. It continuously built upon itself. With each new piece of information, more questions and twists were added to the story. Every time I thought I had figured out what was going on, I had not only not figured it out, but it also didn’t seem to be the true importance anymore.
The piling on of craziness also only helped to heighten the suspense of this film. The distortion between the hypnotic states and real-life became almost indecipherable which certainly kept me on my toes. Just when you’re like “wait, whatttt how is THAT what happened!?” it didn’t really happen. So the next time something happens you’re like “ok well this is obviously not real” and then IT SO IS. The movie really sets you up for maximum confusion and suspense, which I definitely really enjoyed.
With a great cast, comes great responsibility, and the three leads in Trance, certainly lived up to their abilities. McAvoy’s portrayal of Simon is really what pulls you in. He makes you question what he truly knows, what his real intentions are, and he doesn’t look too bad doing it either. Cassel is typically a supporting actor, and although he’s the second male lead here, he’s just as terrifying, vicious, intriguing and dramatic as ever. His portrayal of the relentless Franck serves as an excellent villain who still makes us empathize with him at times. Finally, the always gorgeous and genuine Dawson is as alluring and captivating as she is a protagonist in her own right. She certainly serves to shake up the plot and doesn’t ever lead on too much about all she really knows.
While I admit, with all of it’s twists and turns, this movie was obviously difficult to pull off but I’m also not so sure it was entirely pulled off. In fact afterwards I was sort of like… wait what? I admire the ambitions Boyle took here, but at a certain point it got a little too much even for me. This is definitely a film you’ll have to see twice, but this review is for my first time through. While I’m sure there are movie watchers way smarter than I, and perhaps some even less scholarly (?), I think this movie will be over some people’s heads. In general, I think everything was wrapped up, but I’d have to see it again to know for sure, and that’s not a feeling I like to walk away with.
This movie was certainly more good than bad, and was in fact one of the better DVD’s I’ve seen this year. Although it had a lot going on, and was kind of difficult to follow at times, I’ve never seen another movie quite like it. I don’t recommend it for a casual movie goer, or someone who doesn’t want to think too hard. But if you’re looking for a trippy movie that will keep you guessing until the end with excellent directing, acting, and plot development, then definitely rent Trance (and maybe keep it an extra day).