Log in

No account? Create an account
03 July 2013 @ 11:52 pm
Film Review: Trance  
A film starring James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, and Vincent Cassel that tried to be the Thinking Man's Inception.

Simon (McAvoy) works at an art auction house and is the inside man for the robbery of a painting Franck (Cassel) and his crew are planning. The day of the robbery, Simon is dealt a head injury which gives him partial amnesia of the theft. Which is unfortunate since it seems he has double crossed Franck and secreted the painting away to a location now unknown to anyone. Desperate to retrieve the memory, Franck sends Simon to Elizabeth, a hypnotherapist (Dawson) who quickly gets in on the game for a slice of the profits. However, in their efforts to unlock the memory of that day from Simon's mind, they manage to unlock plenty of other things.

Trance is a film by Danny Boyle and it's chock full of his stylish cuts and cinematic framing. There are plenty of visually appealing sequences where reality, memory, and fantasy all blend on screen as Elizabeth takes Simon through his sessions. The surreal quality of film nicely captures the sense of disorientation and confusion that Simon is experiencing as he tries to piece together what happened the day of the robbery, even as his unconscious seems to be working overtime to make sure he doesn't remember.

Despite what I just said about the film's nifty surreal quality, I started to feel like the narrative of the film became something of a mess halfway through. It almost felt like Boyle got so enraptured by the twisty turns of dreams and hypnosis that he lost track of time and had to slap together the solution at the last second. I tend to get annoyed when films don't pace themselves well and the big reveal of the mystery has to be delivered in one long monologue chunk which is more or less what happened in this movie.

Acting overall is what saves this film from being just a superficial tale with lots of pretty visuals. Sure, the script wasn't amazing, but everyone acted the hell out of their roles. I particularly liked McAvoy whose portrayal of Simon really highlighted just how much of a dark horse he really was throughout the movie. You spend most of the film feeling bad for Simon who is constantly getting threatened by Franck and his crew lest he not remember where the painting is. But as the movie goes on, you start to get a sense of not everything being what it seems. Despite the movie's narrative going at a jerky pace, McAvoy's unfolding of Simon's character was expertly done and his ultimate reveal felt a lot more organic and well-timed. I'd also say that after you find out everything about Simon, you realize that there probably aren't too many actors who can play that role without either turning the audience off completely or coming across as completely pathetic. The fact that I could sort of hate McAvoy's Simon while also oddly sympathize with him speaks volumes of how good McAvoy's acting is.

I've never felt one way or the other about Cassel but he proved to be a rather charming "villain" in this. I put villain in quotes because despite several million pounds being at stake thanks to Simon's last second double cross, Cassel's Franck is pretty patient with him after the initial torture session. Franck is your atypical baddie in that he's almost an intellectual who sees the advantage of employing the gentle touch rather than brute force to get what he wants. I appreciated that his character actually had some morals and kept up some realistic boundaries.

Dawson did an overall fine job as well as the somewhat mysterious Elizabeth. If I had to criticize one thing about her performance it would be that her acting was unsubtle enough that I figured out somewhat early on in the film who she was and what role she would ultimately end up playing in the film's conclusion.

Overall, I don't put this as one of Boyle's best films story-wise, but visually it's right up there with the rest of his work.

I highly recommend this film if you're a fan of the actors or if you want to icon the hell out of some pretty visuals.
oohmeseckaroonaseckar on July 4th, 2013 09:05 am (UTC)
the Thinking Man's Inception.
Isn't that... Inception? If I'd tried to get through that film without thinking I'd have...

... spared myself a headache.