Trance review

Banana Rating: 3 out of 5

If Danny Boyle wasn’t a Brit­ish national treas­ure before 2012, he cer­tainly was after spear­head­ing the open­ing cere­mony for the Olympics in Lon­don last year. Like most people in the UK who weren’t privy to what was going on behind the scenes, there was a feel­ing of impend­ing doom before­hand. Was this Danny Boyle guy going to deliver the goods?

To be hon­est, it was prob­ably just typ­ical Brit­ish neg­at­ive think­ing. We love to look on the dark side.

But any film fan worth his or her salt should’ve known bet­ter. Nine times out of ten, Boyle has a habit of deliv­er­ing some­thing that, if not always per­fect, is at the very least inter­est­ing. So as it turned out, the open­ing cere­mony was pretty amaz­ing. It was so good, they offered a knight­hood to Boyle (he refused it, saying,“it wasn’t my cup of tea.”).

Whilst dir­ect­ing oper­a­tions on the Olympics gig, he was also knock­ing out a Franken­stein stage play, and put­ting together  a dark little heist movie called Trance. Now that’s what I call mul­ti­task­ing. I can just about get a cup of tea ready at the same time I’ve fin­ished mak­ing myself a sand­wich, but bey­ond that my mul­ti­task­ing skills are rubbish.

Amnesia is... wait, I forget

Set in Lon­don, Trance is in some ways the flip side to all the upbeat pat­ri­ot­ism of Boyle’s Olympic efforts. It’s also a dif­fer­ent Lon­don to the one we often get these days, the kind with a red double-decker bus on every street corner, and Big Ben vis­ible from every win­dow. It’s not a par­tic­u­larly touristy film.

This is because Trance deals with crime. High stakes crime. James McA­voy plays a guy work­ing secur­ity detail at a Lon­don auc­tion house. Should one of the fam­ous works of art being auc­tioned come under threat of being stolen, McA­voy and his team quickly put into place a well-practiced routine of remov­ing the art­work out of harms way.

How­ever, very early in the film, it turns out McA­voy is an inside man, there to ease the heist of a rare paint­ing by Vin­cent Cas­sel, the vil­lain in charge of the rob­bery. Dur­ing the theft, McA­voy takes a blow to head. When Cas­sel dis­cov­ers the paint­ing is in fact miss­ing, it seems he’s been double crossed by McA­voy. But he claims inno­cence, amne­sia and no know­ledge of the painting’s whereabouts.

They both call upon a hyp­no­ther­ap­ist, Ros­ario Dawson, to try to unlock the artwork’s loc­a­tion in McA­voy’s mind. If only things were that simple, eh? Need­less to say, they aren’t.

Information overload

From here, Boyle pulls out every dir­ect­ing trick in the book. It’s a very flashy film, por­tray­ing a Lon­don that feels mys­ter­i­ous, and dream like. He tilts the cam­era a lot. Some­times, when dir­ect­ors do this, it reminds me of the Bat­manTV show from the nineteen-sixties. I’m sure that’s prob­ably not their intention.

As Ros­ario digs deeper into McA­voy’s sub­con­scious, the pace really picks up. By the end of the film, your head will prob­ably be spin­ning from inform­a­tion over­load. The pay­off is a good one, and undeni­ably excit­ing, but the path to that point can some­times be con­vo­luted. I always find it a bit irrit­at­ing when a char­ac­ter has to dump ten minutes of plot expos­i­tion in your lap before the story can pro­gress (usu­ally because the writers have been too clever for their own good), and that hap­pens in Trance.

Trance is one of those films that are great while you’re watch­ing them, a real treat for the eye­balls and some­times, for the mind. But a few hours later, after it’s ended, and you’ve got some dis­tance, it strikes you as bit of an empty experience.