Film Review – Trance
Some movies are best seen with as little advance information as possible. Danny Boyle’s new film, Trance, is one of them, and if you take my advice, you will come back and read this after you’ve seen it. You probably won’t do this, which kinds of sucks for me, because all the things I really want to write about the film would spoil the hell out of it. (Are you sure you don’t want to go and see the movie first? I’ll wait. I like it enough to say it is interesting and a lot of fun, and if you are into Danny Boyle and/or what Netflix would probably call a “cerebral thriller,” then you’ll probably have a good time with this. Seriously, you’re still here? Okay, fine.) So what do I feel comfortable saying about this film? Well, here it is:
1) There is a painting.
2) There are some art thieves.
3) There is a man with partial amnesia (James McAvoy).
4) There is a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson).
5) There is a man (Vincent Cassel) who wants the hypnotherapist to get some information out of the amnesiac’s head.
6) It’s kind of a heist movie, until it’s not.
7) There are things to figure out, so you need to pay attention.
I don’t know what else to tell you. I’ve embedded the trailer below, but I don’t really think you should watch it. I went in only having read the very brief IMDb description, and had a great time not quite knowing where things were headed. It’s fun, but it’s dark and violent, so I don’t want you to think it’s a light-hearted romp. But it is smarter than the average thriller, as well as being stylish in the way that Danny Boyle films can be. I do not unreservedly love his films; some of them are definitely better than others. But they are always interesting, even when they fail to capture my imagination. This is a plot-driven story, and while there are a few places where it is easy to lose the thread, he manages to have everything make sense in the end. But you need to be willing to spend a little time wondering what the hell just happened.
The almost total reliance on plot to move this movie forward, while certainly fun, does come with a few problems, mainly that the characters are a little flat. For the most part, they are neither likable nor detestable, but are simply game pieces to be moved around the board. The film gets away with it because of the inventiveness of the story, but when it turns out that someone is not exactly the type of person we thought they were, the moment has less impact because we were never very emotionally invested in that character to begin with. James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, and Vincent Cassel are magnetic on screen, which serves the film well because they round out the characters when the script doesn’t. This is especially problematic at the film’s end, because some people have done some very bad things, but the film glosses over the ethical ramifications of their actions. They are portrayed as neutral players, when, in fact, they have wreaked some very serious havoc. I’d like to be more specific here, but I can’t, and it’s killing me. But I liked the movie enough to keep its secrets.
There was one thing that really bothered me though. There is a full-frontal nude scene with Rosario Dawson that just annoyed the hell out of me. I have nothing against nudity; the human body is a beautiful thing, blah blah blah. But I do have an issue when the female nudity is vastly out of proportion to what is going on with the dudes. There is a very specific plot point within the movie that concerns Dawson’s character’s pubic region, and the film let’s you know visually instead of another way. Fine. Except this particular plot point does absolutely nothing to move the story along. It’s not porn-like in any way; I just could not figure out why that scene was there. (Well, I know why it was there. I’m not completely clueless.)
One thing the film does really well, though, is to show London off. I firmly believe in foreign travel, and London is one of the great cities of the world. If you haven’t been there, start saving up; you could spend a month there and only touch the surface. Some of the night photography is stunning, and the city is the most likeable character in the movie.
Nude scene aside, I enjoyed Trance quite a bit. It’s got some issues, but stands out in the endless sea of boring remakes and franchises. I’m not quite sure I entirely buy the premise and resolution, but I did so enough to have enjoyed the film. Anyway, just go see it.
Final Grade: B[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=976y9Xm6BkY&w=560&h=315]