If you’re going to put a painting worth over 25 million pounds in a “safe place”, it’s pretty important that you remember where that safe place is. However, what happens if you simply can’t? Review of Trance after the jump.
Simon (James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer at a prestigious London auction house. In the event of an attempted robbery, his job is to remove the most expensive item from the room and get it to a safe place. However, procedure states that “no art is worth more than a human life”. This is put to the test when the auction house is robbed soon after the close of an auction for a painting that sold for over 27 million pounds. As he has been trained to, Simon takes the painting in an attempt to get it to safety before it can be stolen by the thieves. There is much confusion and a confrontation in which Frank (Vincent Cassel) knocks Simon out cold.
The painting is gone but Simon is called a hero for his efforts. However, it turns out Simon is suffering from Amnesia and he can’t remember much of what happened, including what he did with the paining after he took it. Frank, angry at the failed robbery finds Simon and informs him he needs to find the painting. He forces Simon engage the services of a hypnotherapist to help him recover the memory of the painting’s location. Dr Elizabeth Lamb (Roasrio Dawson) is extremely skilled and soon finds her way into Simon’s head. In doing so she discovers there is a criminal element to these consultations. Will she continue to help? What will happen to Simon and Elizabeth if the painting can’t be recovered? Now we have a heist film that has suddenly become a white-knuckle thriller.
Despite the simple premise, Trance is anything but. The film constantly has you on your toes, reevaluating who characters are and where their true motivations stem from. Much like certain doctors have the ability plant ideas into people’s’ heads through hypnotherapy, causing them to question their actions and beliefs; the film plants ideas in the audiences’ heads which causes you to be uncertain and constantly question what you’re seeing. This is for the most part a good thing. At times however the plot becomes so muddled that you’re taken out of the film – it’s not a film that embraces it’s audience, but one which forces it to work for any developments. The film is not predictable and it is certainly not boring. You just need to trust that the story will come together, and much like a jigsaw, you will see the whole picture at the end.
Performances from the two leads are both strong, with McAvoy in particular impressing with his intensity and energy. Simon is a complex character with many layers, and McAvoy peels away the layers, and makes each one come to life. While Dawson is good, I did have some issues with her character. For a large part of the film her character feels very underwritten and one-dimensional, and I struggled to care about her involvement in the increasingly twisted plot.
Danny Boyle has created a very stylised and slick film, which mirrors the fast-paced world that the individuals involved are operating in. Cold harsh metals and artificial lighting create and unforgiving environment. Masterfully edited, with a fantastically energetic and atmospheric soundtrack, Trance is a cinematic experience which demands the attention of all of your senses.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer(s): Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel
Runtime: 101 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: April 4 2013; USA: April 5 2013