Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel
Danny Boyle is hot property. After the breath-taking Olympic Opening Ceremony, he’s the British director everyone’s talking about and this will probably make Trance his most watched film to date. Boyle hasn’t undertaken a thriller in this way before but his usual beat heavy music is heard and his fascination with dreams and hallucinations is apparent. Whilst Trance may have elements of Danny Boyle camera trickery, it’s a film that has seen him boldly leave his comfort zone and it definitely pays off.
Trance stars James McAvoy as Simon, an art auctioneer who’s knocked unconscious during the robbery of a painting worth an obscene amount of money. When the thieves, lead by Vincent Cassel’s Franck, get the painting to their warehouse they see that all they really have in their possession is a canvas. Believing Simon to have taken the painting, they torture him in order to get answers but Simon fails to remember the events of that day (a result of his blow to the head), meaning the whereabouts of the painting is unknown. Franck and his team have Simon hypnotised by therapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), but as she delves into his mind they begin to see why he’s hiding this secret and that everything isn’t quite what it seems.
Trance is a complex thriller that you’ll have to concentrate on in order to keep up with the non-linear time frame. If you don’t pay attention you may fail to realise whether you’re in reality or in the mind of one of the characters. Think Inception but without the dreams-within-dreams. Don’t be put off by the intricacy of the film though; it’s easy to follow as long as you understand what you’re being drawn into.
Each actor individually manages to create a sense of empathy for their character and the audience are lead to understand them, even the criminal mastermind behind it all, Franck. This is partly due to the multifaceted script but mostly because of the great acting by all three leads. Cassel brings emotion to Franck and, although we know what he’s doing is wrong, we get an understanding of why he’s committing his crime. Dawson’s character is full of hidden agendas and her performance really shows that. We’re constantly unsure of who she’s trying to help and any ‘A’ list actress who takes her kit off, and isn’t Demi Moore, deserves a shout out for bravery. McAvoy is also on top form – seeming vulnerable at the beginning but changing over time. One thing Boyle always manages to do is bring the best out of his cast.
What Boyle truly brings to Trance though is visual flair. The beautiful colours, the quick cuts, the shots where objects and people reflect in multiple mirrors, really add to the illusion. Sharp blue and red visuals – both of which intensify the subject of the human psyche, enhance the film further. Whilst it might not be as commercially viable as Slumdog Millionaire or be in with a chance of becoming a cult hit, like Trainspotting or 28 Days Later, compared to the 127 Hours and Sunshine, this is definitely the best.