Movie Review: Trance [2013]

Trance [2013]

Trance [2013]
Director: Danny Boyle
Screenplay: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller
Starring: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson
Running Time: 101 minutes

Danny Boyle’s latest thriller is a film that bounces all over the place with a plot that is both convoluted and completely outlandish. Twists and turns are plentiful, and at times the film is hard to follow. However, it is directed with a style and vision that only Boyle can pull off.

James McAvoy stars as Simon, an art auctioneer who is violently hit in the head by criminal Franck (Vincent Cassel) during an art heist gone bad. When Simon regains consciousness, it is discovered that he also has amnesia — he cannot remember anything that happened after the damaging blow to the head. His memory is crucial, as it turns out that he had hidden an extremely valuable painting during the heist, sending Franck and his goons home empty-handed. Franck begins torturing Simon in a desperate attempt to find its whereabouts. Realizing Simon isn’t bluffing with his amnesia, Franck sends him to a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), in a further attempt to unlock the memories of where the painting might be.

Trance [2013]

From there, the film bends in all sorts of directions, and there are enough dream sequences shown to make it very difficult to know just what is real and what is fantasy. This is a film that must be taken at face value; it asks its audience to go with the flow and not think too much about what is happening on screen. So much of it is far-fetched that these jumps in logic are bound to infuriate some.

For a good 3/4 of the film, it’s incredibly difficult to determine what exactly is happening. A huge twist near the end puts things in perspective, and it is in this way that the film rewards patient viewers. Sure, it may not entirely make sense, but then again the film’s concept itself is pretty ridiculous.

In the hands of a lesser director, Trance could easily be a middling affair. However, this is Danny freakin’ Boyle, so at the very least it’s full of eye candy. Dazzling shots, vibrant colors and a rush of a soundtrack (composed by Underworld’s Rick Smith, no less) all help make Trance fly by.

Trance [2013]

The cast, of whom McAvoy, Cassel and Dawson are all given nearly equal screen time, is strong, and they play off each other rather well. The arch of McAvoy’s character is particularly invigorating, and he delivers what may be his strongest performance yet. It is Dawson’s performance, however, that people will remember most. She is completely believable as a hypnotherapist, which is a major feat in itself. I could listen to her soothing voice all day long.

While Trance may jump around a bit too much for its own good, it remains a solid thriller that is rewarding enough for those who sit through till the end. It is the type of film that begs to be seen more than once, but at the same time it is perhaps not strong enough to warrant repeat viewings.


28 thoughts on “Movie Review: Trance [2013]

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Not Boyle’s best, but his most fun and exciting in awhile and that’s really saying something considering what he’s been churning out the past couple of years. Good review Eric.

  2. ruth says:

    I missed the press screening for this but I figure it might be better as a rental. “For a good 3/4 of the film, it’s incredibly difficult to determine what exactly is happening” That’s kind of what I figured, but I still really want to see it because of the director and cast, esp. McAvoy.

  3. sati says:

    I don’t think I will love the movie but I’ll watch it for sure, I like twists, turns and McAvoy πŸ™‚ Great review, awesome that the guy from Underworld did the music here, seems like a good fit.

  4. Anders says:

    This was surely a ride, with lot of twists. I like movies with twists but this one almost had too many, making me give up trying to follow it for a while. But in the end it was worth the ride anyway, giving the ol’ brain a good workout :p The soundtrack was great and so was the cast, especially the three leads. I’ve liked McAvoy ever since I saw him in Last king of Scotland, one of my fav movies. Great review as always man!

  5. lrstreet says:

    I felt exactly like you did except I’m willing to give it a few re-watches. I’m glad you touched on how well Dawson does in the film because I also thought she was the stand out.

    Awesome review!

  6. Jules M. says:

    This sounds like the kind of plot that could have been a great Hitchcock/Jimmy Stewart movie back in the day…. which I know if I go in with those kind of expectations I will probably be setting myself up for immense dissapointment. It looks interesting anyway. Hard to follow plots aren’t necessarily bad, (See The Big Sleep) but sometimes in the hands of less than masterful filmakers things can indeed become so muddled that you throw your hands up about half way in and give up trying to make sense of the mess. Good review.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Thankfully Danny Boyle is at the helm for this one, and even when it’s confusing, it’s still a stylish affair. It all comes together by the end, too, which makes it a mostly rewarding experience. A good rental at least.

  7. Dan says:

    It’s Danny Boyle so I’ll have to check it out but I wasn’t as impressed as many were by 127 Hours so I’m not rushing to see this.

  8. sanclementejedi says:

    I missed this when it was at the sort of local sort of art theater. Now I am bummed out as I will have to wait for months to get to watch it. Damn big theater chains all showing the same crappy films. 😦

  9. Lights Camera Reaction says:

    Nice review! Trance may be an example of style over substance, but the film is a lot of fun and the whole experience is a blast. The film is definitely not boring will keep you hooked to your seat throughout. Yes, there are a couple of writing issues that the editing tries to cover up, but for the most part Trance is a compelling and complex thriller.

  10. Chris says:

    Trance does have its supporters online, though it doesn’t sound like a masterpiece, so I’ll probably catch it on dvd later.
    I listened to the soundtrack, which I liked, and will share tracks from soon.

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