Very much like a film released earlier this year, Side Effects, Trance looks to capitalize on the fun elements of the “taut thriller” genre that a lot of other films try their best not to pander to. To those of you who throw your arms up violently at this idea, I apologize for your sad dismissal of this film, because Danny Boyle has created a feature that I’m willing to say can rival a film he did earlier in his career, Shallow Grave.
Simon (James McAvoy) works for an art auctioneer and finds himself in a tight spot as he happens to have hidden a painting during a robbery and is unable to remember where because of a sudden case of amnesia. Franck (Vincent Cassel) then hires Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), a talented hypnotherapist, to help make Simon remember.
Very much like Christopher Nolan‘s 2010 film, Inception, we’re taken into a world where part of the fun is knowing at any point the filmmaker can purposefully pull you out of the world by saying “you’re in his head here” and at the same time he can use that type of plot device to bend things at his will and in the end make a much more interesting visual narrative. So with that in mind as a viewer you can either attempt to apply all forms of logic and be disappointed or lock in and go along for the ride; I chose the later, and I loved it.
It’s no surprise that Danny Boyle, director of Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire, knows how to make a film a visual feast. In this manner Trance doesn’t disappoint. I particularly love how Boyle continually reminds us how we’re traversing the world of a person’s mind. Everything feels, on some level, cerebral. From the filters that we see the world through, as if the memories (that have been forgotten) are clouded, or a single shot of something normal that reminds of an interconnected system (like the brain), everything feels different somehow in this film than any other reality we’ve seen on screen.
For some it may be a problem to keep up with the pace this film makes for itself as it allows for Elizabeth to take Simon in and out of a trance-like state and even to believe that this level of persuasion could be possible for anyone in the world. However, it’s what the film asks of us to enter into so as to give us an enjoyable experience of the dynamics of this three pronged relationship between Franck, Simon and Elizabeth. Without this basic premise we have nothing, so once again, if this is the point where you’re going to start asking questions then you’ve already lost the battle against enjoying the movie.
This is a film of twists and turns that would make the most difficult of knots, but somehow that didn’t perturb me in the slightest. To me this was all a fun crazed roller-coaster ride. When we reached that ending third of the film and all these characters in full gear I was honestly scared and thrilled for what was happening now and begging for what was going to happen next. Expecting and accepting double and triple twists I had completely bought the film hook, line and sinker.
Some may take offense at being blindsided by these extra turns, that seems to be a case of preference. Here however, the film doesn’t hide it’s intentions. With the movie opening with a monologue from Simon discussing the thing that instigates an art robbery, “a bit of nerve and muscle” it’s easy to see where the muscle is, but where’s the nerve? The film takes us, sometimes not so slowly, down this rabbit hole of answering that question trying to see who’s the one with the most nerve, and I loved every minute of it.
What did you think of Trance?