Monday, July 08, 2013

Review - Trance (2013)

Starring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson.
Directed by Danny Boyle.

Trance is Danny Boyle's weakest effort I've seen. I admire his style of film-making but he definitely went a bit over his head in this one. Simon (James McAvoy) teams up with Franck (Vincent Cassel) and his goons to steal a multi-million dollar painting. However the plan goes awry and Simon finds himself having no recollection of where he hid the painting - after suffering a blow to his head. As a result, Franck hires a hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to delve into Simon's mind to see if they can retrieve the hidden painting.

I really liked how Trance opened up; it gave us a stylish introduction to Simon, his job and what it entails. The introduction sets us up for a heist which happens shortly afterwards with Franck and his goons and I liked how these scenes were executed. However, after Simon suffers from memory loss and seeks the help of Elizabeth -- the movie took a turn for the worst. Trance boasts an interesting premise which was completely wasted because Danny Boyle thought that it would be a good idea to turn this premise into an overly ambitious mindfuck. It failed on all levels. If you minus the hypnosis aspect of this film, Trance would probably be just another crime/heist thriller with a twist you could spot from a mile. I kept my fingers crossed hoping that they would put this hypnosis concept to good use but nah - Danny found some way to fuck it up.

The movie starts out strongly and hold your attention because it seemed so unique. However after the hypnosis sessions began with Simon and Elizabeth, the movie clearly lost itself. Instead of getting an interesting twisty thriller -- Trance evolved into a poorly edited, over-stylized, wanna-be psychological romance drama. At this point, everything was all over the place and I lost all the care in the world about what the hell was going on. It got worst when the movie started treading down romance lane - a romance so out of place it hurts. The primary focus should be trying to solve the puzzle, not throw us into a  romance mindfuck drama. This continued and I was just sitting there hoping that Trance would somehow try to catch itself. It didn't and just when I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse, the dumb as hell ending happened.

Vincent Cassel was very underused. James McAvoy and Rosario did what they could but the messy narrative and structure overshadowed everything. You could tell a plot twist was going to happen but because of how messy and poorly this movie became, it had no impact and could not save it. On a positive note, the cinematography was lovely. I admired the color palletes and angles -- but at the end of the day, that was pretty much the only thing memorable about Trance.

I was left thoroughly disappointed. It showed promise at the start but poor writing and poor editing became its downfall. It tried to be overly ambitious when it really didn't need to be.

Rating: 4/10

Movies Also Watched:

Out Of Sight (1998)
Slick, sexy and funny film. Lovely chemistry between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. - 9/10

Coffee and Cigarettes (2004)
A compilation of amusing and boring shorts which will hold your attention or maybe not. - 6.5/10

Hard Candy (2005)
A tense, thrilling and engaging film with a loud and clear message. Ellen Page was amazing in her role. - 9.5/10

The Hitcher (1986)
A creepy slasher film that will provide you with some thrills and chills. Solid performances from the two leads. - 8/10

La Vie En Rose (2007)
A beautiful biopic of Edith Piaf with a mesmerizing performance from Marion Cotillard. - 9/10

Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)
Great performance from Tom Cruise in this solid look at the effects of the Vietnamese war. - 8.5/10 

The Third Man (1949)
An engaging thriller with a unique score and solid performances. Orson Welles was perfect. - 9/10


  1. Good review! You are right about Boyle being a bit too ambitious. It is trying way too hard to be smart but it doesn't really work.

    1. Thanks Erik, I was disappoined. It could have been much more exciting.

  2. Good review Shawna. It's a crazy movie that you can never quite tell where it's going to go and how, but it did leave me wanting just a bit more. Just a bit.

    1. Thanks Dan. Mid-way thoughout, it just lost me. It could have been a very decent thriller.

  3. Saw this yesterday, I think I liked it a lot more than you but I was in the "WTF" mode during the first half. Picked up a little after that.