Film Review: Trance
Trance is the latest film by Britain’s favourite film maker, Danny Boyle. Fresh off his outstanding success as the director of the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games, Boyle steps back in to cinema with a psychological thriller that blends together questions about mind control, hypnosis and amnesia with the action sequences and thrill rides of a wild ride popcorn flick.
I went into Trance without any prior knowledge of the film, I had not even seen a trailer or read a plot synopsis or cast list. However I knew it was Danny Boyle and that in itself creates a certain expectation. When the film began it automatically met my expectations, with a voice-over monologue which is not unlike the great “choose life” monologue that Boyle gave us so many years ago in Trainspotting. It sets the tone for the entire film, one that moves as quick as the drumming dance music that it plays to. One that throws as many images and ideas at you as hard and as fast as it possibly can.
The film tells the story of an art heist gone wrong and without giving too much away, the film spends most of its time in search of a misplaced painting. However, this is really just the outer layer that exists to satisfy the thriller elements of the film, the macguffin, if you will, that allows us to explore the world of these characters and their relationships.
Our female lead throughout this is the always beautiful and enthralling Rosario Dawson. Portraying a smart and sexy hypnotherapist, Dawson gives us a strong and confident female protagonist who demands respect. We are never too sure of where her loyalties lie in the film and Boyle keeps us guessing throughout, almost to a point where the film feels a bit to convoluted and dense given its mere 101 minute running time. But, thankfully, Dawson is persistently entertaining and charming, her performance and character are at times a reminder of the gorgeous femme fatale of noir films. Perhaps given the hyper-real pace and modern style, Dawson's character Elizabeth, gives us what we could call the neo-femme fatale.
However not all roles within Trance are portrayed in such a pleasing way. Vincent Cassel plays the part of Frank, the leader of the heist, and his performance and character is one that really does damage the film. I'm undecided as to whether or not it's the character or the portrayal of this character that is so disappointing, either way I don’t think it matters. Frank becomes hugely important in both the plot and the internal relationships of the characters. We empathize with Elizabeth and we understand and feel for our male protagonist Simon (James McAvoy). However, Frank is always kept somewhat out of our emotional reach and this becomes one of the film's main problems considering just how large of a role Frank plays within the onscreen relationships.
This film is also perhaps one of the most
over-stylized films that Boyle has yet to make. It is not that Boyle has given
us something new with this film; it's just that he's taken his love for
digital film making to the next level. He's been called the British Tarantino
by some critics, and I don't feel that this really creates a very accurate
picture of his films. I would say one would be more accurate if they were to
compare him to a director like Tony Scott. Particularly his 2005 film Domino
seems to share many things with Trance. The MTV style editing, the overlay of
fast and energetic dance music and the use of oversaturated yellows, oranges
and blues. Boyle's images however are fairly complex and thought out - look for
the recurrent visual theme when viewing the film and I think you begin to see
what I mean. Thematically, the film has been compared to Christopher Nolan’s
film Memento and this can probably be picked up by almost anyone who has seen
both films. However Trance is nowhere as dark as Memento and is ultimately more
fun than anything else. All of this leads to a film which is an absolute assault
on the senses, one that may be a little too much for some film goers. However,
if you are looking for a balls to the wall roller-coaster ride that also has
some lovely images to match for your night at the movies this month, I would
say that Trance will be incredibly satisfying.
A truly exciting view which is guaranteed to make for a fun night out.