After impressing us all with his Olympics tour de force, Danny Boyle returns to his day job of making films. Matthew Smith reviews the mesmerising Trance…
Synopsis: James McAvoy plays Simon, an art dealer with a gambling problem. He joins forces with a group of criminals in order to steal a painting and pay off his substantial debts. The heist goes wrong Simon takes a blow to the head and he subsequently can’t recall the whereabouts of the priceless piece of art. A hypnotherapist is employed in the hope that she can help unlock his mind and recover the painting.
Review: Trance is a film that concerns itself with the surface quality of things and the fragility of ones own mind, both in its aesthetic approach and its narrative. Fractured self perception and an inability to decipher the real from the imagined are reflected visually in Boyle’s use of mirrored surfaces, twisting architecture and almost theatrical lighting. He manages to create a world in which you believe everything you see, but trust none of it. Trance is reminiscent of films such as Memento, Shutter Island and Don’t Say a Word in its creation of an unreliable narrator, employing a non linear narrative that blurs the boundary between the films reality and Simon’s re-presentation of that reality. Brilliantly executed and edited Boyle manages to disorientate his audience throughout, consistently forcing you to re-think your perspective on character, story and motive.
The Best: Unlike a lot of intricate psychological thrillers the film manages to stick with its premise until the very end and provide a rewarding and believable pay off that doesn’t short change its audience.
The Worst: Boyle sometimes seems to take an unnecessary liberty with his use of gore. Making what is a complicated and occasionally challenging film a little more schlocky than is probably necessary.
Verdict: Trance is one of the best films of the year so far. A fun piece of cinema that manages that calls into question the reliability of its characters, forcing its audience to reassess and question what we can trust what we are being shown.
Celluloid Influences: Memento + Don’t say a Word = Trance