In Dreams 

Director Danny Boyle returns to his techno-’90s roots in Trance.

Trance is really two movies: the buildup and the payoff. The former is far superior, an elegant head-games heist noir with style in spades. The climax? Could have gone in any number of directions and kind of a let down where it landed.

James McAvoy stars as Simon, an art auctioneer with intimate knowledge of the security measures taken to protect multimillion-dollar masterpieces from no-gooders. "We have precautions, they have plans," he says of the good-guys-versus-bad-guys dynamic in voiceover. Precautions include Ukrainian commandos at the ready, though Simon suggests, "No piece of art is worth a human life." The one with the plans to nab Goya's painting Witches in the Air is Franck (Vincent Cassel) and a crew of ruffians.

The film opens with the elaborate heist. Simon foils it and spirits away the painting. Franck coldcocks him, giving Simon a brain injury bad enough he can't remember where he hid the painting. Which is a problem because Franck is willing to pull fingernails out to get the information Simon can no longer access.

The movie's very movie solution? Get a hypno-therapist to prize out the memories! Enter Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) and lines like, "We keep secrets from ourselves; we call that forgetting."

But this is the awesome part of the movie. It's mercury slick and shot by director Danny Boyle and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle with a rainbow palette and ebullient lighting. The plot turns into cons upon cons times a thousand as Simon, Franck, and Elizabeth struggle for superior position and allegiances (seemingly?) shift.

The film also enters Simon's headspace, with Elizabeth as his spirit guide. Just where did that painting wind up? Elizabeth seems to be a femme fatale archetype: She can get men to do her will just by suggesting it to them.

In a way, Trance is anachronistic. It seems like a mid-1990s cinematic artifact — like it's been sitting on a studio shelf waiting to be produced — frenetic as if it hadn't been done before, propelled by techno beats and pop visuals but with a cynical, sarcastic, violent underbelly. It's a movie that seems to be rebelling against some old guard filmmaking that is no longer relevant. It brings to mind, naturally enough, Boyle's and writer John Hodge's pre-millennial works Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, and A Life Less Ordinary.

Resultantly, the final shape the film settles into is kind of old-fashioned. Trance is not as trippy or mind-blowing as it could have been, containing a few shocking and pointless gory moments, and with one or two fewer twists than an audience might expect from this kind of movie in 2013.

But for a long spell, you want to see where McAvoy and especially Cassel and Dawson are going to take you. It's a willing, participatory suspension of disbelief. Then you get there — you wake up and wish the dream had been a little better.

Trance
Opens Friday, April 12th
Multiple locations

Trance
Rated R · 101 min. · 2013
Official Site: www.trancethemovie.com
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Joe Ahearne and John Hodge
Producer: Christian Colson and Danny Boyle
Cast: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Tuppence Middleton, Sam Creed, Lee Nicholas Harris, Danny Sapani, Ben Cura and Hamza Jeetooa

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Trance

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Blade Runner 2049

      A science fiction masterpiece with an Elvis cameo
    • American Made

      Tom Cruise is at his best playing wily Arkansan drug smuggler Bobby Seal.

Blogs

We Saw You

Foaming at the mouth at Cooper-Young Beerfest

News Blog

New Mural Installed on Highland Strip

News Blog

Terminix: A Ghost? In Memphis, Probably a Roof Rat

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies to waive or trade Baldwin, Zagorac today

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Eric Hughes

From My Seat

NBA 2017-18: We’ve Been Here Before

Tiger Blue

Tigers 30, #25 Navy 27

Intermission Impossible

How Very: "Heathers" is Halloween Candy that Won't Make Your Tummy Hurt

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Greg Akers

Readers also liked…

  • A Bigger Splash

    Tilda Swinton and Ray Finnes deal with First World Problems
    • Jun 1, 2016
  • Outflix Film Festival 2017

    The Homegrown Festival Marks Twenty years of Bringing LBGTQ Films To The Mid-South
    • Sep 7, 2017
  • Maggie’s Plan

    Comedy perfection from director Rebecca Miller
    • Jun 17, 2016
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation