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.

7/10

127 Hours [2010]

127 Hours [2010]

127 Hours [2010]
Directors: Danny Boyle
Genre: Adventure/Drama/Thriller
Language: English
Country: USA

What would you do to survive? That is the $1,000,000 question in 127 Hours, Danny Boyle’s latest film. The movie is based on the real life story of Aron Ralston, a mountain climber and all-around adrenaline junkie who became trapped by a boulder in the massive Blue John Canyon in Utah in 2003. With his arm stuck between the boulder and a rock wall, Aron is forced to make a difficult decision: stay where he’s at and hope for some kind of miracle (that’s not going to happen), or cut off his arm and live the rest of his life as an amputee? Obviously, as this was a major news story when it happened, most people should be familiar with the end result. It’s one hell of a story, but I had to question how well it would translate to the big screen.

In the wrong hands, there’s no doubt that 127 Hours could have been a disaster. However, this is a Danny Boyle film. The man can do no wrong. His trademark visual styles are in tact, and his frenetic action shots are exactly what this kind of film needs. Still riding high from Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle teamed up with Indian composer extraordinaire A.R. Rahman once again, and the man put together one hell of a soundtrack. The music is diverse and accurately encapsulates the gamut of feelings that Ralston is experiencing on screen. I am ecstatic that these guys teamed up again, and I hope they do so again in the future.

127 Hours [starring James Franco]

Rest assured, this is also the James Franco Show. This is arguably his strongest performance yet, as he perfectly portrays the cockiness and eccentric behavior that is Aron Ralston. We learn more about Ralston’s back story and his thought processes via occasional flashbacks and hallucinations, but the majority of the movie is just Franco in a canyon with his arm smashed against a rock wall. Luckily Franco plays a very likable character, and he keeps things fresh by talking to his camcorder, hilariously interviewing himself and by trying anything he can think of to stay alive and escape.

When the movie finally gets to the breaking point of Ralston cutting off his arm (with a piss poor dull knife, mind you), it is some powerful, powerful stuff. It’s a gruesome scene, no doubt, but there is a huge sense of relief when it finally happens. 127 Hours is an adrenaline rush from beginning to end, and it should not be missed.

8/10