“Trance will derail your train of thought.”
GRADE: 4/5 Stars
by Richard Rey
Trance’s success lies in its first ten minutes when director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) sets the tone of this low(er) budget indie film. As the improbable plot is rolled out, we are given hints – some more obvious than others – that this movie will be entertaining, action-packed and romantic. Not bacio on the lips in Venice romantic – but dreamy, mystical romance. Through camerawork and dialogue, a subtle disclosure is provided: this film will not take itself overly seriously. Imagine your grandfather telling you: “Now I don’t want you to be overwhelmed by the story I’m about to tell, but it is a frightening one.” Now pretend Danny Boyle is your grandfather. Case in point.
The Academy Award-winning director knows that his film is not grounded in reality, and he’s proud of it. Not because it’s Oscar-worthy material but because it is both intelligent and trippy. This hypnotherapy-thriller revolves around Simon (James McAvoy, Last King of Scotland), an art auctioneer helplessly thrown into the middle of a heist of a Goya painting. When a blow to the head renders him unconscious, he loses all memory of what happened. Under normal circumstances that wouldn’t be a huge deal except that these slick art-schemers are after him in search of the painting. They’re willing to tear his finger nails off one by one to prove it. After failing to extract the whereabouts of the Goya, Franck (Vincent Cassel) is told that hypnotherapy might cure his victim’s amnesia spell.
Enter Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson), a hypnotherapist who spends her days curing patients with morbid obesity, golf obsessions and drug addiction. Brief, compelling vignettes of her work pass and go like clouds. She may be the one person who can delve deep enough into Simon’s mind to pull out the vital information that just might save his life.
From poster to silver screen, the movie is clearly an art house film. It’s like watching a mad scientist in a laboratory experiment, mixing a drop of this with dabs of that to create colorful cinematic expressions. The visuals accomplish what the film sets out to do: paint a picture, one brushstroke at a time, of an implausible, perhaps misunderstood movie. If it misses the mark stylistically it does so in Picasso fashion, evoking emotion in every spectator be they confused or enlightened. For better or worse, the cinematic table is set for a full-fledged buffet of mind-eff moments and thrills that will suspend you throughout. It is a less convoluted Inception with a labyrinth of twists and turns that’ll have your head spinning like a carousel.
As with Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece, giving away even the most minute detail would spoil the whole meal. So I won’t. Instead I’ll suggest that you see it and judge it for yourself. And in case my other headliners didn’t appeal to your taste (yea, I’m stickin’ to my guns), here’s an aperitif: it’ll derail your train of thought. Buon appetito.
MPAA: Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language
Runtime: 101 min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller, Art House
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel
Theatrical Release Date: April 2, 2013