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Movie Review: 'Trance'


Starring James MacAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson
Directed by Danny Boyle
Rated R


Danny Boyle, the director of Trance, really hit the lottery in 2008.  That’s when a little movie called Slumdog Millionaire not only made close to $400 million dollars worldwide, but also took home 8 Oscars.  To call it a phenomenon might be a slight understatement.  But it also took a guy whose career was steady, but still somewhat under the radar, into the stratosphere.  Boyle it seems wants to get himself back to that place under the radar.  A place where he can make movies that may not garner the interest of most fans of Slumdog Millionaire, the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, Millions or even 127 Hours.  I’m more than ok with that, because I like the Boyle who gave us Trainspotting and Shallow Grave.

Trance, Boyle’s newest film, is a slick endeavor, slightly twisted (maybe more than slightly),  and a little too clever for its own good.  Does it reach the heights of Boyle’s earlier films?  No, but it’s not for a lack of trying.  Trance is that movie that one will see, kinda forget about, but then stumble upon it one day on cable and realize that it’s kind of a cool movie.  And it has a scene with a head, just ripped in half after being shot by a pistol, talking to the main character.  How can you not love that?   Yeah, I like things that are slightly twisted, but I’m ok with that.

Trance is also a movie that I can’t go into a lot of detail about.  What I can tell you is this.  Simon (James McAvoy), is an art auctioneer.  An on the outside,  a seemingly put together man. But on the inside there is a lot more going on.  Simon, due to vices that get out of control, gets involved with a group of criminals, led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) who attempts to steal a very valuable painting at the very gallery Simon works for, a robbery that Simon ends up receiving a nasty blow to the head that ends with Simon suffering from amnesia.   This is problematic because Simon hid the painting and Franck, being the diligent criminal that he is, wants the painting.

So they elicit the help of Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), a hypnotherapist, to hopefully unravel the mystery of where the painting may be.  The rest of the story, which I can’t go into, is a tangled web, most  of it good, some of it not so much, just like the inside of Simon’s head.   And because Boyle is so good a telling a story, he’s able to lift a script, that handled by another less talented director, might have an end result that is way more messy and confusing.  But he’s able to craft an interesting story out of one that if you really think about it, is kinda mundane and a little unrealistic.

It also helps that he has a pretty talented cast that pull off this story.  MacAvoy, in particular, walks this tightrope between being this guy, on the outside, has everything together, to the inside, where hidden is a way more devilish nature.  Trance also sticks with the 3 main characters and weaves its interconnected story through them and them alone. It works, but it also hinders certain points in the movie that try to lead you down a different path than what is intended.  Leaving you to sort of figure out their endgame before the movie does. 

Trance isn’t for everyone.  But if you’re a fan of Boyle’s work, this is Boyle shedding the phenomenon that came into his world a few years ago and getting back to films that put him on the map.  Boyle’s always been a guy that has tackled different genre’s and been somewhat successful at doing so.  I always get a smile on my face when I see Boyle’s name attached to something, but it’s movies like Trance that make that smile a little brighter.

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