Amazon.ca Widgets

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Trance

Trance

After playing the awards game with the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and Oscar-nominated 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle returns to dishing out his unique take on genre films.  In the case of Trance, what starts off as a fairly ordinary heist film, turns into psychological thriller in which the main protagonist begins to doubt the reality he’s perceiving.  The film can probably be best described as a mix of a Guy Ritchie film with Memento, with a little David Cronenberg thrown in for good measure.

The film focuses on an auctioneer named Simon (James McAvoy), who is accomplice to an art heist perpetrated by Franck (Vincent Cassel).  When Franck finds the painting missing from its frame, he automatically assumes that Simon hid it from him.  However, Simon received a blow to the head during the robbery and can’t remember anything.  As such, he is instructed to visit a hypnotherapist to help him remember where the painting is.  So, Simon visits Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) and together they begin the quest to find the painting – which turns out to be much more complicated than it seems.

While often misinterpreted as mystical mumbo jumbo due to its use as entertainment, hypnosis is a real process the mind goes through when the body is halfway in-between being awake and asleep (i.e. going into a trance).  Only a small percentage of people are susceptible to suggestion while under hypnotic trances (which is why hypnotist shows often start off with a large number of volunteers).  As it turns out in Trance, Simon is part of that small percentage and the question becomes whether or not he is being taken advantage of while under trance.

I thought that Trance was a well-executed crime thriller, which becomes much more of a mind twister as it progresses.  In fact it comes to a point when even the audience is not sure whether or not we are seeing something that is real or part of one of Simon’s hypnotic trances.  Despite the hypnosis premise, the action still seems grounded in reality for the most part.  However, the film still features some strange violent imagery, such as a man with half his head missing talking to Simon, which seems to be taken right out of David Cronenberg’s body horror films.  It’s definitely an interesting visual, though it does stand out when compared with the rest of the film.  In some ways, I wish Boyle included more of these weird sight gags in the film.

Also, it’s obvious that Danny Boyle added gratuitous sex and violence to the film just for the sake of having gratuitous sex and violence.  In fact, Boyle went far to include, an admittedly well edited, song selection to the film that essentially just acts as a fanfare for a full frontal nude scene.  While it can be argued that the scene in question contains some relevance to the plot as a whole, its sudden occurrence and the way it was executed did come off as quite gratuitous.  Of course, this is coming from a guy who had a montage of sex scenes in Trainspotting, so I suppose it was not fully unexpected.

Overall, I quite enjoyed Trance.  In an age when movie trailers give away too much about the film, I was also quite happy that, even though I previously saw the uncensored redband trailer for the film, I was still surprised by a few of the film’s many twist and turns.  Overall, I have to say that Trance is currently among one of my favourite films of the year.

 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).