Raise your hand if you want to take a ride through Simon’s mind and have one of modern filmmakings most creative minds be your guide. If that question were asked of me I would raise my hand every time. Then when I found out that Danny Boyle was my guide I would streak through the streets naked and scream with excitement. I know there are plenty of Danny Boyle detractors out there but you would have to really flex your elitist snob tude to find anything truly wrong within his nearly stellar filmography.
Trance is really no different from his other ventures in that its another perfect opportunity for Danny Boyle to show what he does best, make great movies. The difference here is that he has made the best film he’s made since Trainspotting. I say that because Trance has the balls that some of his more recent films have not displayed and yes I’m including 127 Hours mainly because while cutting your arm off is shocking, it’s not risky by any means. Think back to the Trainspotting / Shallow Grave days when Danny Boyle wasn’t afraid to have Ewen McGregor swim in the bottom of a toilet bowl looking for his lost baggy of blow, or wasn’t afraid to have a group of friends take their dead roommates body and chop it up and bury it in the woods and then use his money to buy things. This is the Danny Boyle we get here.
Trance is a mind bending tale about a man, Simon (James McAvoy), who works for an art auction house by day and gets himself into tricky situations involving the not so friendly types of people you may find living in the lap of luxury but secretly do questionable things to get what they want by night. This is where the story begins. A piece of art is stolen, Simon is cracked on the head by Franck (Vincent Cassel) he forgets where he put the artwork and then the tricky stuff starts to happen. In comes Elizabeth played by the stunning Rosario Dawson who really in my mind is the star of the show here. She plays a hypnotherapist that helps people find things they have lost, including missing bits of memories. I won’t say much more to avoid spoiling anything but prepare yourself for more twists and turns than the Nurburgring.
When you think twists and turns you may think of M. Night Shyamalan who for better or worse has made his career on the surprise plot twist at the end of movie. Well thats not quite how Trance works because there are 3 or 4 moments where everything you thought was true are turned upside down and proved to be the opposite. While things like this may annoy some viewers it pulled me even deeper into the film. I knew after the first revelation that I needed to pay closer attention as to not miss the next thing that may happen. Also, these aren’t your typical plot twists. These are things that exist perfectly within their universe because they are portrayed as truths. What I mean by that is, the revelations in the movie aren’t shown to be twists but are shown to be the unveiling of factual events taking place in normal reality but are unknown to us because we are living in an alternate form of reality through Simon’s, if that makes sense. They aren’t there to blow your mind they are there to let you know that the truth is there but it lies just a bit deeper.
This is the film’s greatest strength throughout. To pull off a story like this you really need the right cast, the right plot points and clear concise way to tell the story or this ship will fall apart before its left the harbor. Luckily Fox Searchlight couldn’t have picked a better person to make sure all those things were intact and perfectly placed in the film. I haven’t really talked about the other thing I found amazing in this film which is the stunning visuals. That isn’t anything new in a Danny Boyle film but it is and always will be so refreshing to watch one of his films. He is never short on ideas of how to make your head spin or blend colors and light together or film a scene from unique perspective. These are the little things that make his films feel so fresh and new. This kind of wild creativity is what makes him stand above the rest. Well, that and his ability to tell a concise well thought out story properly. As we know just throwing a bunch of amazing visuals together does not make a great movie (Science of Sleep).
Trance from beginning to end has everything I love about movies: Incredible visuals, solid performances from the talent, a crazy twisting turning plot and balls out unflinching reality (sort of). Do yourself a favor and see this magnificent bastard of a movie.
I give this film a 4 out of 5
By Brandon Bray