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Monday, April 1, 2013

Trance Review

Rosario Dawson as "Elizabeth" on the set of TRANCE. Photo Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures
Trance Review
2013, 105 minutes
Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language

Danny Boyle continues his multi-film winning streak with Trance, a complex, crazy fever dream of a thriller that is a Boyle film in every way from the kinetic editing down to the techno score.  Trance follows an art auctioneer (James McAvoy) who tries to find the painting that he stole from a group of criminals through the help of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) after being hit over the head during the robbery.  

What makes this movie is the energy.  The film uses quick cuts and a pumping techno score combined with the game cast to create an experience that is distinctly "a Danny Boyle film".  Boyle can make the most unlikely story entertaining and electrifying.  Take 127 Hours as an example.  It primarily takes place in a crack in a canyon, but is somehow fascinating and fun largely due to the crafting of the film.  Trance could have been just another art heist film, but Boyle makes it so much more.  His filmmaking style is reminiscent of an MTV music video which makes viewing one of his movies a rush.  Special kudos go to Anthony Dod Mantle, the director of photography, who shot this movie and many of Boyle's other films (and most recently Dredd, which looked magnificent).  His camera angles are unique and so is the lighting.  Much of it is neon which complements the dream-like nature of the film perfectly.

The acting by the entire cast is superb.  James McAvoy gives a powerful performance as Simon, the art auctioneer.  McAvoy has always been an underrated actor in my opinion.  His performance in this film is quite possibly his best to date.  He plays a quiet, but sly man to perfection with a quick wit.  Rosario Dawson is sexy and cool as Elizabeth, Simon's hypnotherapist.  This is also one of her best performances.  Vincent Cassell plays Frank, the leader of the group of criminals and is psychotic.  Cassell is a master of playing demented characters, as evident in Black Swan and Irreversible.  The gusto he performs with is impressive.

John Hodge's (Trainspotting) screenplay is particularly smart.  While it isn't anything groundbreaking or profound, it is twisty and twisted.  His dialogue is sharp and he literally makes it impossible to stay one step of the movie.  He is one step ahead of the audience.  Naturally, a film of Trance's nature has many plot twists, therefore, DO NOT read any other reviews or synopses of it, or view the red-band trailer, as there are bound to be spoilers in them.  It was especially hard to follow the storyline in the film at certain points, but never once did it not make sense, which made it all the more rewarding when I caught up with it.  Particularly impressive about Hodge's screenplay is his attention to character development.  While there is little emotional connection to the characters, each is well-drawn and complex, making the film that much more interesting.

Overall, Trance is a great film.  It is bloody, fun, and electric.  While it is not as good as Boyle's masterpiece 127 Hours, it is certainly up to par with some of his other great films like Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire.  This will reward smart viewers and is simply a really unique piece of entertainment.

-Joshua Handler

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