When the preview screenings started showing for Trance people started going crazy for it, I read so many good reviews and heard people talking about it on the radio that it got a little stuck in my head. When I remembered my local Cineworld was showing a preview on Monday 25th March I thought I had better check it out. Previously I had said that I wasn’t interested in seeing Trance due to the twist being revealed in the trailer – a cheapening of the audiences viewing experience I always think and never a good sign. What I didn’t know at the time though was that this film is so full of twists and turns that the minor reveal in the trailer is barely the tip of the ice burg.
But what do we know before we go into the cinema? Danny Boyle has directed some of the all time favourites such as Trainspotting, The Beach, 28 Days Later, and more recently Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Co-writer John Hodge wrote the screen-plays for The Beach and Trainspotting, and is also supposed to be working on Danny Boyle’s newest project Porno, the Trainspotting sequel. They have made film history before so we should be expecting something brilliant here. We also know the plot, sort of. IMDB serves it’s purpose for this one “An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.”
Said art auctioneer is Simon, played by James McAvoy, who tries to be a hero when an expensive painting is threatened and gets a nasty blow to the head for it from Franck (Vincent Cassel) leader of the criminal group. Loosing his memory of that night and therefore the location of the multi million pound painting, the criminals turn to hypnotherapy in order for Simon’s memories to come back. At random, Simon chooses hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) who becomes mixed up in Simon and the gang’s debauchery. As Elizabeth begins the treatment, Simon’s world unravels and the plot takes several twists and turns through his psyche before the audience are sure of what is actually happening.
For the first 40 minutes I was unsure of where the story could go and felt a little lull in my previous excitement for the film. But all of a sudden something clicks and Trance just starts snowballing, the plot thickens continually and the audience is given many scenarios before you can understand what is and has happened. Very cleverly written and never too confusing that I lost interest. The direction guides the plot and gives it fantastic pace. I wish I could say more specifics but I wouldn’t want to spoil any bodies viewing, so much so that I am not going to do a spoiler section just in case curiosity gets the better of you!
The threesome of McAvoy, Cassel and Dawson is superb. There is an air of love and lust between them but never romance, and the way in which the characters positions change from start to finish is very interesting. By the finale I was actually routing for Cassel to come out on top despite him being the one ordering McAvoys finger nails be pulled off in the beginning. All three give fantastic performances, the best I have seen from Dawson I think, and the most memorable role of Cassel’s for me (remembering I am not a film connoisseur though). McAvoy can be hit or miss for some, yes he is a little smug and has a slightly annoying face but I have always liked him (you can’t hate Mr. Tumnus!). It is no different in his role as Simon here, his characters goes through phases which really show off his talents and I cannot think any one else that would play this part as well.
The criminal group is made up of Danny Sapani, who I recognised from TV shows Ultimate Force and Misfits. Sapani has a powerful screen presence for me and is great at playing balls out crazy (see series one of Misfits!) Matt Cross, and Wahab Sheikh make up the three cronies but are unfortunately quite forgettable. Apart from a lady named Tuppence Middleton who gets the title ‘Young girl in red car’ for a credit there are not many other noticeable characters. This makes the film very intense on the groups dynamic and much more thrilling when their stories are coming to a close.
Trance has a memorable style. Boyle sets the film in London, although there aren’t many distinguishing features as the film is not focused on its location. The scenes seem to get increasingly darker along with the story and the lighting is always sullen and moody during intense situations. The indoor sets are dark with contrasting florescent lighting, which sets a striking scene for when things become psychologically intense and physically violent. Along with the POV shots, clever angles and heavy soundtrack you have a mentally stimulating picture as well as a brilliant story to tell with it.
My only quibble with Trance is it’s heavy reliance on hypnotherapy being able to wipe a persons brain of a significant chunk with relative ease. There is probably evidence that this can be done but I am a bit cynical when it comes to things of that nature. I managed to suspend my dis-belief though and was thoroughly drawn in by this film. I was completely invested in the characters of Simon, Elizabeth and Franck and transfixed by the roller coaster story. I wish I could see it again for the first time, and highly recommend that you do.