TRANCE review by Gary Murray

TRANCE review by Gary Murray


Danny Boyle is an Oscar-winning director who is best known for gritty films such as Trainspotting and 28 Days Later. Arguably his biggest success was Slumdog Millionaire, a little art-house film that originally opened in 10 theaters that went to become a $100 million sensation. His latest film is the melding of the heist film with a physiological thriller. It is called Trance.

The story is of an art heist gone awry. James McAvoy plays Simon, a worker bee at the auction sight in charge of the security of the paintings. He and his team perform practice drills on securing expensive works of art that are to be put on the block. Simon is very professional in his job.

One day, a group of criminals break into the auction just as a very valuable painting has broken a selling record. Simon tries to save the painting and is knocked out by the criminals. The blow damages his memory.

Well, all is not what it seems with the robbery. Very soon, Simon is accosted by criminal Franck (Vincent Cassel). The painting was not in the frame that they had stolen. Somehow Simon has hidden the work of art from the art thieves and the thieves want their loot. After beating the man, the bad guys realize that the problem is much more mental than physical.

Franck suggests that he visit a hypno-therapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson). To keep up the ruse, Simon says that he lost his ‘car keys’. She puts him under and his discovers his missing item, not the painting but the actual car keys. This shows Franck that tapping into the mind of Simon can be done.

The story is of the layers that Elizabeth must go through to penetrate the secret inside Simon’s brain. But, like all good noir thrillers, nothing on the surface is what it seems and there are motivations behind every character on the screen. The film twists and turns upon itself to a shocking series of ending reveals.

Rosario Dawson gives the rawest performance of her career, proving that she is more than just a pretty face. She plays a cool, calm and collected professional with more than a few secrets in her internal closet. She exposes herself both physically and emotionally in what is a gutsy performance. This is the kind of role that wins Oscars and puts one on the short list of leading actress roles.

Vincent Cassel is more well known on European shores than in the US. The actor makes a stunning impression as our gangster. He doesn’t play to the stereotype but finds a different interpretation to the role. At times he comes across as cruel but at the same time oddly compelling. It is a fascinating reading of the role.

James McAvoy is probably best known for his role in the 2006 flick The Last King of Scotland. Here he is the put upon hapless young man caught in circumstances well beyond his understanding or control. As the layers of Trance unfold, we find that his Simon is not exactly the weak victim we thought he was and that there are some different elements deep down in his psyche. This is another brilliant reading from the young actor.

Danny Boyle proves that his Oscar was not some one-trick pony. He masterfully takes some difficult material and presents it in his iconic fashion. This is yet another classic masterwork from a director who makes challenging films about different aspects of the human condition. There are some that will be put-off by all the violence and mayhem behind Trance. It is gritty and as tough to watch as Trainspotting or Shallow Grave but in the end it is a very satisfying thrill ride. It is just the kind of film for a wet, spring afternoon of cinema enjoyment.

TRANCE opens April 12, 2013

Be Sociable, Share!

About the Author