Monday, 1 April 2013


20th Century Fox Films

Now Showing

At one point in Inception, Christopher Nolan's dream-within-a-dream-within-a-cinematic melange, Ellen Page's architect character asks, "Who's dream are we in now?". And you may very well find yourself asking a similar question of Danny Boyle.

The director returns to feature film making with Trance, a psychological thriller with the emphasis very much on the psych; the film taking place, for the most part, in the mind and under hypnosis.

That mind belongs to Simon (James McAvoy), an art gallery employee who, following a botched robbery which has also robbed him of some of his memory, is called upon by the bad guys (led by Vincent Cassell) to recall what happened to the painting they attempted to steal.

Having no luck with the old school ways like torture, Franck (Cassell) decides upon a different angle: hypnosis. Enter attractive hypno-therapist Elizabath (the always radiant Rosario Dawson), who, sensing her new client is in danger and that there may also be a great deal of money involved, agrees to help Franck with his extraction mission provided she gets a cut.

To say any more about the plot of Trance, penned by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge, would be to spoil its many secrets (it's a film best enjoyed if you go in cold; I'd suggest avoiding the trailer, too), suffice it to say that like in all heist films nothing goes to plan, and as in all psychological thrillers it's not always easy to determine the good guys from the bad or, as is the case here, the real from the imagined.

And if there's a complaint to be made about Boyle's Trance, it's that it's too clever by half but perhaps not as clever as it thinks it is. But I'll admit that complaining about a film for being (or attempting to be) too clever seems rather churlish, specially in this day of lowest common denominator big budget filmmaking.

Besides, it's good to see Boyle back behind the camera -- his first film since 2010's 127 Hours before taking time out to work on the 2012 London Olympics -- and flexing his directorial muscles. And from a technical viewpoint, the film's a knock-out. Aided greatly Anthony Dodd Mantle's digital cinematography, Jon Harris's editing, and a pulsating score by Rick Smith (of Underworld fame), Trance dazzles and rarely flags during its 101 minutes.

And even if Boyle's spell is broken somewhat during the film's third act, where revelations tumble out like so many repressed memories, it doesn't necessarily spoil the experience of Trance. As with any jigsaw puzzle, the thrill is often in piecing it together and not always the bigger picture.

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