Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
"No piece of art is worth a human life"
Trance is a true psychological thriller. The set-up and concept, of somebody delving deeper into a broken man’s psyche in order to pull out a secret, is a compelling and promising one. While the film begins in a rather standard manner for a filmmaker such as Boyle, the film continues to elevate and escalate into much more than it initially seemed. This is one of those films that many will feel the need and wish to revisit, if only to fully realize all the clues littered throughout and to determine what was real and what was not. Boyle plays with multiple perspectives, timelines and realities in this film, with relative ease and supreme confidence. You only feel confused when the film wants you to be so, and come its rather silly conclusion, only one piece of crucial development is missing that could have provided complete satisfaction.
As should be expected from Danny Boyle, visually this film is a delight. From his disorientating camera angles, the inclusion of numerous mirrors, the modern set design, the sound design and the editing, this is a technically terrific film. One particular trance sequence about halfway through the film is expertly edited and builds into an incredibly tense crescendo. It is a scene that demonstrates mere filmmaking craft and performances, can provide the breathless excitement that many blockbusters falsely think can be created through excessive explosions. Additionaly the music from Rick Smith’s score to the inclusion of songs by Moby and Emeli Sandé, is superb. Boyle is one of those filmmakers who expertly marries film and music, along with the likes of Tarantino and Scorsese. This film is no exception and can stand alongside the likes of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, as a great Boyle soundtrack. I am listening to the soundtrack as I type this review and I am sure I will continue to listen to it for a while.
Moving away from the expected invention and inspiration to be found in Boyle’s visuals and music, to the performances where we have a trio of leads in the shape of McAvoy, Cassel and Dawson. James Mcavoy gives a very solid performance, playing an unlikable character who has many deeper, darker layers to him than one would expect. Cassel has perhaps the least interesting role of the three, not doing anything particularly out of his comfort zone or challenging for him. It is Rosario Dawson who has what is arguably the film’s most interesting character and performance. As the seductive and manipulative therapist, Dawson gives a performance that is equal parts enticing and off-putting, as there is a constant unspoken edge to her character, as we are aware of her ability to completely construct the situation and the actions of those around her. It is a great character and performance, that perhaps along with the film, deserved and needed a bit more in the final stretch in order to solidify its strength.
The script by John Hodge is where Trance’s flaws can be found. As the film enters its third act and the twists and revelations pile on top of each other, the film feels the need to tie itself up in a very expository manner. The film perhaps has one twist too many for its own good in the end and becomes, hopefully quite knowingly, silly as it reaches its conclusion. The bullet kiss and the fiery showdown seemed to be near shark jumping moments and slightly at odds with what had come before. Finally, when the true scope of the narrative has been unpackaged and revealed, the film lacks a truly compelling piece of development and motivation. It is cleverly constructed and the film coherently presents who did what and when…but crucially misses out on why. It is these three slight missteps towards the end (The over-expository nature of some of the revelations, the silliness and the absence of substantial motivations) that prevent Trance from achieving the greatness it could have.
Overall Trance is a very fun, engaging film, particularly if you are a fan of this kind of cinema. It has its gleeful and enjoyable over the top moments and its damaging over the top the moments. It is gripping from start to finish and though it could easily lose some when all is revealed, I personally was with it and on board from beginning to end. While some more genre-savvy may have been able to pick up on the clues on a first viewing and not be too shocked with how it all comes together, there will be many who will enjoy and need a second viewing in order to fully appreciate the refreshing complexity and darkness of the story.
Movie Parliament Rating: Majority Government (What does this mean?)
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