Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published April 8th 2013
A thriller from director Danny Boyle
Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) Cast: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassell
Full credit to Danny Boyle for never making the same film twice. His willingness to take chances has brought us such classics as Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire. On the downside, it's also brought us the lamentable A Life Less Ordinary, but one dud in 20 years represents a pretty impressive record.
His latest, Trance, is a brain bending experience a la Inception, but instead of dreams, reality is blurred with hypnotic states and the tinkering of memory.
In the intro we meet James McAvoy's Simon, an auctioneer dealing with the world's great paintings. During a botched heist, he is knocked out and reawakens in hospital. A Goya painting worth millions is missing and he has no memory of events. Was he working with the thieves, the auctioneers or does he have his own agenda? To help unravel the mystery, he starts seeing a hypnotherapist (a beautiful, seductive woman, naturally). Complications ensue.
It's a fine line in storytelling between intricately layering one deceit after another and overplaying your hand. By film's end Trance shows the strains of one clever trick too many. Nevertheless, I'd rather see an ambitious film with too many ideas than something generic and unimaginative.
While your brain is busy ticking away, there is plenty to enjoy visually and aurally. Music and sound is used to great effect, often building up to create tension in the scenes of hypnosis before suddenly cutting off once the character is snapped back into the real world.
As a thriller, Trance delivers the goods and will keep you guessing til the final scene (and probably for a while after that too). Some will find it clever, others may think its a bit of a mess. While it may not resonate like Inception, given the high degree of difficulty, Boyle has done a good job to deliver a slick, tense and twisty piece of entertainment.