Trance - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Trance Reviews

Page 1 of 93
Super Reviewer
January 27, 2014
Danny Boyle's Trance is one of those films that boasts an impressive concept, but fails to deliver. I really expected this film to be good, but the end result is a mediocre film that just doesn't have what it takes to be an entertaining action thriller. The film has an impressive cast, an original concept, but one that I felt was underdeveloped and one that ultimately left a lot to be desired. I really wanted to get into this film, as I think that Danny Boyle is a terrific director, and he is among my favorites. However here he presents a film that is disappointing despite its premise, and you wonder how something interesting could fall flat. I expected much more from this film, and if you're looking for a thrilling film, you'll be disappointed with Trance. The film is all style and no real sense of substance. Trance ends up being a dull film, one that should have been great. Instead, it squanders its potential, and tries to overwhelm you into its spider web of so called thrills. I simply felt that the film didn't work, and it could have been better considering the talent involved in front and behind the camera. This is a film that tries too hard at capturing your attention, and in doing so, you're lost in its complexities, and it is a film that is hard to follow and not as interesting as it tries to be. Trance could have been a highly memorable film, but it ends up being disappointing and I feel that there is something missing here to make it a better film.
Super Reviewer
½ December 21, 2013
Entertaining British crime caper but I found the characterisations a bit hard to believe and the plot becomes a bit too confused.
Super Reviewer
½ April 24, 2013
Trance sees director Danny Boyle return to the kind of kinetic sensory-overload-with-attitude that harkens back to his early days of Trainspotting glory. And while the images are undeniably beautiful, and the three main cast members are all excellent, nothing can save a story that veers quickly and remorselessly into nonsense territory. In fact, what's frustrating about the movie is that it uses its buckets of disorienting style in an attempt to distract audiences from a storyline that progressively gives up every thread of logic, as it transforms from an enjoyable heist movie with a psychological twist in to a melodramatic Inception-esque romance/thriller with a bonkers action-movie finale, all of which comes off as tonally confused as it sounds. Beautiful, yes, but in the end, no amount of captivating visuals are enough to lull the audience into forgetting the movie's many flaws. It's basically The Beach all over again.
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2013
After a string of mainstream hits (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours), "Trance" is Danny Boyle's return to the more eccentric genre fare he was known for, and he really directs the hell out of what is one of the best entertainments of the year. In Boyle tradition, It's a fantastic piece of visual filmmaking... but the cast is great, the soundtrack is kinetic, and the energy of the film is absolutely infectious as well. In the end I STILL can't grasp all of the plot's intricacies and I'm left a bit dizzy, but that's just par for the course in a movie aptly named "Trance." Trying to put it all together is so much fun that it hardly even matters.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2013
It's very common for directors to kick back and have some fun after winning a major award. The Coen Brothers have virtually made a career out of alternating weighty, compelling dramas like No Country for Old Men with more frothy, whimsical fare like Burn After Reading. Having wowed the world with the 2012 Olympic ceremonies, Danny Boyle is now following their lead with Trance, a film that's shallow, indulgent, ill-disciplined - and quite good fun.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ September 21, 2013
For all the style, and trippy atmosphere to Danny Boyle's latest directorial venture, a film cannot be comprised of mood scapes and visual trickery, and nothing else. Boyle may have made his name by directing these sleek, hallucinogenic thrillers that coat the inside of your brain with floating images and brash visuals, but here it's all the movie aims for. You could argue that this film is thrilling, has a twist that drives the entire movie forward and creates a sense of suspense and intrigue, but you would be wrong. So wrong that it hurts me to point it out. This film is all one big mindf**k that is trying to make you ooh and aah at how intense the hypnosis works, how layered the experience is for main character Simon (McAvoy), his employer Franck (Cassel), and hypnotist Elizabeth (Dawson). The entire movie is a tease fest as it tries to make you wonder at the obvious twist ending that is bearing down on you the entire film. Lead character Simon works for an auction house, and he gets into business with a criminal who is trying to steal a painting. In the midst of the heist Simon gets knocked out and can't remember where he put the painting, so he gets Franck to finance an appointment with Elizabeth in a last ditch attempt. Where the painting is remains the big question throughout the film, and it doesn't get answered until the end, when we've tired of the characters' antics. Instead of delving into his mind, it becomes complex within seconds as Elizabeth decides to invade the operation and poaches Simon's mind. The rest of the film is melodrama as she, Franck, and Simon revolve in their own twisted love triangle, and it devolves from thriller to tearjerker in a very short amount of time. That and the last ten minutes are all made up of pointless exposition that only angers you, as you've invested an hour and a half into this slugfest and are rewarded with a lame explanation. It just never picks back up after the first half hour, and most of what people care about in this film seems to be mood more than substance. It's just a film that will engender anger more than anything else, so be warned that it's not worth it.
Super Reviewer
½ July 25, 2013
Michael Mann's forte is crime dramas; Steven Spielberg's forte is blockbuster flicks; Nicolas Winding Refn's forte is art-house, violent pictures. Danny Boyle's is... what is it? Boyle's really stretched himself to be a director that tackles a variety of differing genres. Everything from sci-fi to a children's fantasy flick, Boyle has really built up not only a colorful filmography, but a truly impressive one as well. Following the aftermath of the commendable "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 Hours" comes "Trance", a mind-trip ala "Inception", but even more imaginative and mind-boggling. Overall, it's a much more enjoyable and bigger mind tease compared to Nolan's lackluster dream flick, but by the time the 3rd act hits, the narrative becomes way too far-fetched to keep viewers engaged.

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.
Super Reviewer
April 5, 2013
Started out very interesting...ended up a little odd. Visually very nice. It's just a shame this doesn't have a smarter, tighter script (it does show its hand a little early). This had the potential to be great, but we have to settle for what it actually is: well-shot eye candy.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2013
Trance starts off as a simple heist movie gone wrong before transforming into a mind bending thriller with similarities to movies like Inception & Memento. It becomes hard to distinguish what's real and what's not, but unlike those Nolan classics, Boyle doesn't infuse this film with well-developed characters worth rooting for, therefore lacking a human element. There's no doubt this is a stylish and very well made film as Danny Boyle is an excellent director and one of my favorites, but the screenplay is lacking in spots. The performances are strong from the cast and especially Rosario Dawson in her best performance I have seen to date. Once again though, the screenplay lets them down with character motivation being either all over the place or just plain not there at all. It makes it frustrating when the story is so compelling and keeps you on the edge of your seat because nothing is what it seems. This is one of those movies that will not be fully comprehensible after one viewing and I kind of do want to re-watch it just to see some things I missed because the pacing is frenetic and full speed most of the film, leaving little room to think or catch up, but it would have been nice to fully recommend it with a better screenplay. Danny Boyle's latest is not one of his best, but it has plenty of strong moments to offset its weaknesses and there will be some people who absolutely love it.
Super Reviewer
½ October 9, 2011
Like Inception, this is a heist type of movie that plays with reality, and, perhaps, may not really be about a heist at all.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ August 4, 2013
A surprising and exciting thriller in the same vein as Memento. Rosario Dawson is excellent as always -- I have no idea why she isn't considered to be in the top tier of actresses! Strong performances by French legend Vincent Cassel and James McAvoy. Beautiful sets and a sleek tone. Recommended -- at least if you're in a mind bending mood.
Super Reviewer
August 2, 2013

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.
Super Reviewer
½ April 8, 2013
I found it slow and weak!
Super Reviewer
½ July 27, 2013
A Danny Boyle flick that hardly gets off its track. Unfortunately, the trill portion fail to be effective enough. The ending is absurd, and, just like the rest of the film, quite predictable too. Another movie, named Ghanchakkar, which I haven't watched yet has a similar premises. But as per what I've read, the treatment of the subject (protagonist stealing a large sum of money, or something equivalent, and then forgetting where he hid it, thereby making the partners go helter-skelter. Don't know if the similarity ends there..) is absolutely different.
Super Reviewer
April 17, 2013
It's a vastly stylish, intensely original and explosively unpredictable thrill-ride that will take you under its spell and keep you guessing right to the very finish. It's smart, very fresh and wonderfully addictive. A very sexy, cool, fast-paced and exhilarating edge of your seat mind-twister that keeps your eyes glued to the screen with its terrific character development, engaging story and sizzling twist and turns. A classic thriller. It serves up some wild and sizzling thrills, heart-pounding tension and knockout suspense. A provocative and electrifying movie. A mesmerizing and ingenious piece of work. Director, Danny Boyle crafts a truly absorbing and mind-blowing film worthy of Hitchcock. A fine artist who is not afraid to explore new genres and does a fine job with this film noir. The cast is remarkable. James McAvoy is outstanding. Vincent Cassel is brilliant. Rosario Dawson is magnificent, she's risky, stunning and always confident.
Super Reviewer
April 11, 2013
Boyle's sui generis mise en scene can't do much for a disjointed and cliched script. A lost oportunity for an interesting cast in a neo noir plot. It becomes clumsier with each passing minute.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2013
Hypnotically Stylish Noir.

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.
Super Reviewer
February 14, 2013
Quite enjoyed the twisty ride. And no one does smarmy better than Vincent Cassel.
Super Reviewer
May 1, 2013
Very stylish, Danny Boyle. Very stylish.
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