Boyle's films have always maintained a balance between the earthy and the ethereal. They are often rooted in gritty, down-to-earth characters with whom an audience can empathise, but equally they have moments or sometimes entire concepts which are utterly fantastical. These latter elements often shape the film, as a form of magic breaking into and distorting our perception of reality. Think of the toilet scene in Trainspotting, the glimpse of heaven in A Life Less Ordinary, or all the scenes with Pinbacker in Sunshine.
In the case of Trance, it is as though Boyle sat down, watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Inception, Memento and Mulholland Drive in one day, and then said: "Those were all great - but now let's do the fun version." That's not to say that none of these films are entertaining, whether viscerally or intellectually, but Trance is driven by a guttural instinct towards having fun - something which is both its biggest asset and its greatest liability.
The story of Trance is firmly in the territory of all these films. It shares with Inception the concept of lucid dreaming within a crime thriller storyline, along with recurring images of lifts (this may also be a reference to Angel Heart). Like Memento our lead character's journey is examined through the fragmented nature of his memory, and it transpires that there is something in his past which gives him an abusive nature.
Like Eternal Sunshine, the film's storytelling is based around dream logic and recurring images, with fantasy and reality, past and present all blurring at the whim of the director. Both films also have a central relationship based around suppressed memories, with its participants discovering that they know more about each other than they may realise. There are also small nods to Mulholland Drive (the recurring use of blue light), Terminator 2 (the scene with the keys in the truck), and the work of Nicolas Roeg, particularly Performance and Don't Look Now.
Hanging over Trance, on top of all these influences, is the erotic thriller genre. It's a film which is fascinated by the female form, and sometimes it can feel like the whole film is but a series of wraparounds between Elizabeth's intimate encounters. It even tries to pull the old trick of justifying what is essentially trash on the basis of some artistic value: we get a long conversation with Simon about painters' attitudes to pubic hair, followed swiftly by a full-frontal shot of Elizabeth.
If nothing else, the visuals of Trance are worth the price of admission alone. Even by Boyle's standards this is a very flashy film, in which colour and light are manipulated constantly to dazzle and confuse the audience. Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography is as heady as ever, resembling some kind of nightmarish acid night, and the recurring use of blue and neon orange light make the film resemble a more druggy version of Tron Legacy.
When it comes to the storytelling, Trance lives up to its name, for good and bad. Having lured you in with an attractive set-up, a good central performance and many of Boyle's typical touches, it leads you on a merry chase wherever it pleases. In the moment, it's really evocative and memorable, but once it's over you only remember odd images, and the more you think about it, the more you realise you were being manipulated to do or believe in things that didn't make sense.
Generically speaking, Trance changes gear several times in a way which is both laudable and confusing. It starts off as a light-hearted, pulpy little caper film, drawing heavily on the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. Then things become more surreal, with long scenes of hypnosis inter-cut with bewildering fantasy. Then the erotic thriller elements rear their head, leading us to question whether the film is commenting on female objectification or merely depicting it. Finally, it becomes a taut three-handed thriller along the lines of The Disappearance of Alice Creed. When all the dust has settled and you're asked to sum up the plot, you find aspects memorable but struggle to explain why.
What all this jumping around means is that the film doesn't fully explore the potentially interesting ideas thatit raises. Chief among these is the notion that hypnotism could be used to exploit people for criminal gain, whether getting people to recite their bank details or carry out a criminal act on another's behalf. Had the film grabbed this idea by the scruff of the neck, you could have had a worthy counterpart to Inception, but instead it's raised in one scene and then not really taken anywhere.
Many of the dream-scapes presented in the film contain images which are just crying out to be explored in more detail. At one stage Elizabeth hypnotises one of Franck's henchmen, and with a single word makes him believe that he is being slowly buried alive. The film could have used this scene as a jumping-on point for examining the origin of fears and how they manifest in our subconscious. But either Boyle isn't all that interested, or he can't turn those often shocking scenes into something seamless and coherent.
The best way to illustrate the central problem with Trance is to compare the film to his earlier work Sunshine. While Sunshine had ravishing cinematography and a series of striking images, these images were built into an examination of something deeper. Even though the film fell away slightly at the end, there was still a conscious attempt to use visual imagery to draw out complex ideas. Trance, on the other hand, has imagery for the sake of imagery: it doesn't have a great deal between its ears and it delights in leading us up the garden path. That's all fine, but it would have been better had it just made a little more effort with the script.
The performances in Trance are, with the visuals, the main aspect that keeps us interested. James McAvoy is very convincing as Simon, going through a wide range of emotions very believably and managing to stay empathetic even as his character turns nasty. Rosario Dawson acquits herself very well, considering that she has less and less to work with as the story moves forward. And Vincent Cassel adds this performance to his ever-growing list of compelling bad guys, ranking alongside his turn in Black Swan for aggression with intelligence behind it.
Trance is Danny Boyle at his most gleefully disreputable. The film is a visual feast with eye-popping cinematography, and its storyline contains many surprising turns - but it's still ultimately a shallow and indulgent work, which stimulates the senses but not the mind. It's by no means Boyle's best work, nor is it something he should seek to repeat, but as an exercise in entertaining trash, it's perfectly fine.
Boyle is a masterful storyteller. You could say that "Trance" is one of his more lighter projects compared to his other ambitious efforts, but it's not to say that this film wasn't crafted with the same amount of finesse as his other films. Everything from the storytelling, cinematography, and dialogue, Boyle sweeps viewers in along the ride. Everything's smooth sailing until the story begins to reveal its inevitable "twist" at the end. It's in the 3rd act when "Trance" begins to break its suspension of disbelief and begins to rear its ugly head, but albeit, it's not as ridiculously far-fetched like "Now You See Me". You could almost say, the twist took me out of its trance. YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
Overall, "Trance" is a truly entertaining, mind-boggling trip that is imaginative, suspenseful, and truly engaging. Though the finale does take viewers of the experience, "Trance" still manages to remain a commendable film to watch.
Co-written by frequent collaborator John Hodge, this is another terrifically energetic and engaging romp from Danny Boyle.
Simon (James McAvoy) is an auctioneer who gets involved in the theft of a Goya painting at his own auction house. During the caper, he suffers a blow to his head, and, now struck with memory loss, can't remember here he hid the painting. Enraged, his criminal partner Franck (Vincent Cassel) is desperate to get Simon to remember. This leads to the involvement of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson), whose involvement results in an even more tangled web of lies, deceit, and danger.
This is basically a typical Danny Boyle thriller. It's got his trademark energy, style, and is visually stunning. The film gets bogged down at times, and perhaps a bit too off the rails, but overall, I think it's a good piece of work, and Boyle was a good choice here.
The performances are all pretty good, and it's nice seeing Rosario get naked, though this isn't her first time to bare it all. It's still very provocative and daring, though. Cassel is suitably, typically menacing, and it's nice to see McAvoy continue to take on grittier roles.
The film is actually a bit more grisly at times than I expected, but I don't think it's a bad thing; just something to note. Same with the sexual content. I think it all serves the story though, so that's good.
All in all, this is a nice slick thriller. It's a bit uneven, and some may not be down with the trickery, but I was pretty into it for the most part. Recommended.
Danny Boyle is one of those directors where if you see his name attached, it instantly becomes a must see. His movies are always unique, different, and 9 times out of 10 very good(he's made a couple bad ones). "Trance" is his latest and it doesn't quite measure up to his other movies, but it's still pretty good. It's about an art dealer named Simon(James McAvoy) who falls into a coma during a heist by trying to protect a painting. When he awakens he suffers from amnesia and can't remember anything. Which sucks for him, as the group that was pulling the heist begin to torture him as he had secretly stashed the painting they were after. They then enlists a hypnotist(Rosario Dawson) to help get inside his head to find the painting. Sound a little confusing? It is, but it also isn't. There is so much more to this movie, it's just better to watch it for yourself. The performances are fantastic. Dawson is probably her best here since "Clerks 2", and McAvoy is awesome, as usual. That guy is one of my favorites. He is always a bright spot in his movies. Vincent Cassel plays the leader of the heist group, and he is awesome also. I've seen him in probably 3 or 4 movies(most notably "Oceans Twelve") and he always does amazing work. He's just a guy you hate one second, then the next you think he's awesome. The movie has a lot of twists and turns, and towards the end it gets a little muddled up, but it still works out. One you definitely have to pay attention too, but not one that will lose you altogether. Up for something a little different that will keep your attention for a couple hours, then put the smartphone down and enjoy.
Great Film! 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. 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.
A fine art auctioneer mixed up with a gang joins forces with a hypnotherapist to recover a lost painting. As boundaries between desire, reality and hypnotic suggestion begin to blur the stakes rise faster than anyone could have anticipated.