Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Movie Review: Trance

Danny Boyle has been doing the rounds to promote his new movie "Trance" so I've now seen him interviewed on it several times. One of the common threads in all his interviews has been that this is the "dark side" to his work on the London Olympic Opening Ceremony; that whilst they were putting together the dancing nurses and parachuting Queens by day, at night he and his team were heading off to shoot a dark, twisty neo-noir thriller so sort of balance their creative Chi. The result is an entertaining, if ultimately shallow film, that clearly wants to be the sort of thing that lingers into the morning after, but unfortunately doesn't.


Trance opens with an art heist narrated by James McAvoys character, and it's quickly revealed that he's the inside man for the gangsters. It's equally quickly revealed that he's double crossed them, and hidden the painting away for his own reasons, but a blow in the head received during the robbery has scrambled his memory. After a bit of light torture fails to dislodge the information, they crooks turn to Hypnotherapist Rosario Dawson to delve into his mind and fix him. Given the twisty nature of the rest of the story - some of which I saw coming, some of which I didn't - I think thats about all the synopsis I can safely give.

My overriding feeling from watching this film is that it is lovely to look at. Boyle has always been a stunningly visual director and Trance is no exception. The use of colour and lighting throughout is fantastic, as is the use of London as a location, glimmering and modern at some times, run down and grimy in others, but always great to look at. It cracks along too - dropping in it's changes at the right moments and never lingering too late on any one iteration of the story.

And the cast too, are great, with roles that shift and change. Its really a three-hander between Dawson, McAvoy and Vincent Cassell, all rolling with the changes whilst keeping the characters feeling consistant, and selling the plot as hard as they can. Sympathies change through the film, and its interesting, in the end as to who you end up rooting for, and why.

Its just that it really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Sure, there is an internal logic at work but its flimsy and slight and more than a little silly. Adding a lot of real-world emotional trauma to it lets the film sell it, in the moment, but it really doesn't hold up. I don't begrudge the film it, because I enjoyed it, because it's gripping and because it doesn't overstay its welcome, but ultimately its a success of style over substance, rather than a classic.