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Whenever Danny Boyle makes a movie I will be there at the front of the queue to watch it. He is one classy British director. I don’t always love his movies, Shallow Grave, The Beach and 127 Hours were not my thing but Trainspotting, Sunshine, 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire right up there. So I was expecting to enjoy Trance.
The gossip around this movie was 57-year-old Boyle’s romance with Rosario Dawson, the stunning leading lady of Trance, who then dumped him soon after the films release. One or two cynics suggested she courted him to get in the Oscar winning directors movies whilst other say Danny cast Rosario so he could get off with her. I don’t blame him for the later and her for the former. The film was shot in a break from Boyle’s London 2012 opening ceremony work and the couple regularly spotted canoodling in Brighton during filming. Quite a few stunning actresses marry and date odd looking men with most of these guys being producers or directors, a comfort blanket if the good scripts dry up for the ambitious actress. Kate Winslet only dates directors. You only need checkout Cate Blanchet’s bizarre other half to confirm that. I read somewhere that seven out of ten actress dump their partner within a year of winning an Oscar. There would be no Oscar for Rosario Dawson in Trance though.
Simon Harris (James McAvoy) is a top end London auctioneer and well drilled in the art and antiquities he loves, and what to do if there is a heist during a valuable sale, which we kick the film off with. As a Goya painting is sold for £27 million pounds over the phone smoke canisters are hurled into the hall and masked men start shouting a lot. Simon, deploying the company’s emergency protocol, races to an emergency drop box where the villains won’t be able to get the painting. But head villain Franck (Vincent Cassel) is waiting for him and after a scuffle, relieves Simon of the Goya, the timid auctioneer knocked uncurious in the process.
When Simon recovers enough to be discharged from hospital its not long before he is being beaten around the head again. Franck and his gang want to know where the painting is as it wasn’t in the stolen drop bag they nicked at the auction. It quickly becomes clear Simon is suffering an amnesia episode and also clear he was the inside man on the job, taking part to help clear his five figure gambling debt, apparently. But that’s about as clear as the rest of the film gets as Simon and Frank employ a hypnotist (Rosario Dawson) to dig out of his memory where the painting has gone, using surveillance techniques to make sure the hypnotist doesn’t get wind of what she is digging for. But our beautiful hypnotist is no fool and ‘googles’ her client, quickly realizing who he is and what exactly he might be looking for. Time to cut herself into the deal for 10% and to try and unpick Simon’s fragile mind as the twists come thick and fast.
We all like a heist thriller, especially one with more frantic twists and wriggles than a maggot on the hook. In the first half I was definitely invested in this and although the characters a little bit too gorgeous and glossy you do stay with it for a while. But once the altered states and hypnotism floods into the movie it becomes a little less clear what on earth is going on and who is conning who, where it loses its fourth star. It’s always the case that films that have an early narration by the star will get obfuscating. The muddled mental states of those characters (and that of the audience) are mirrored by the film's visual style, which oscillates between dreamscapes and frenetic action sequences. The ending is the films weakest point and definitely a movie they problem test screened many endings to a likewise audience (and picked the wrong one).
Its good popcorn fun and shot in Danny Boyle’s familiar and original style and one or two nice scenes to remember. As I said above, the cast are there to look good to distract from any crazy plot holes and although there are interesting subplots in the narrative around famous old masters and the stories they tell its still a head scratcher at times on why exactly would they he do that and wouldn’t that bit stop that bit?
It was Boyle’s biggest flop for a while and its $20 million did just $24.3 back, considered a fail these days because the undisclosed marketing costs are not added to the films final budget figure. There are also seedy undertones here as Boyle gives us plenty of close ups on his misses spectacular and naked Amazonian body, including her naughty bits. The sexual side of the movie, for me, spoilt it someway, even though it’s central to the plot. I would have like it to have been purely an edgy intelligent heist thriller and made more of the excellent Cassel’s and been less about Boyles slobbering over his misses with the camera lens.
We look at its role in the film and how it works on people. Apparently you have to be quite thick to go under.
The look of the film is discussed here.
-The Final Rewrite-
You just felt the writer and director were at odds here and that hurt the film some.
This refers to the Blu-Ray version which is available for £9.65 currently on Amazon, however I bought an ex rental copy from my local Blockbuster when it was closing down.Trance is a 2013 thriller from Oscar winning British filmmaker Danny Boyle, apparently based on a BBC TV series that I can't say that I knew anything about.
It tells the story of Simon (James McAvoy) who is a trusted employee at a top art auctioneers where some paintings go for tens of millions of pounds. After briefly talking the viewer through the procedure should an attempted robbery take place during an auction for an extremely valuable Goya painting, it happens for real. During the ensuing struggle where Simon appears to try and save the painting, he is seriously injured by a blow to the head.
On his release from hospital , it becomes apparent that this is an inside job when he is captured by shady underworld figure Franck (Vincent Cassel) and tortured in order to find out where the painting is. Simon cannot provide Franck with the information that he wants because the head injury he sustained has caused some amnesia. To remedy this, Franck arranges for Simon to visit a hypnotherapist in order that that might extract the memory from him. Simon selects Elizabeth Lamb (RosarioDawson) and begins his treatment.....
To say much more than that would probably be saying too much. From here, the plot develops in a way which could be easily ruined by too much information. What does evolve however, without giving too much away is a stylish, twisty turny erotic psychological thriller.I have to say that despite the mixed reviews that this film received, I really liked it. I am a fan of Danny Boyle in general and what you get here is something thatmay lack a bit of depth but is definitely the work of someone who is really cuttingloose and having a lot of fun. Like McAvoy's character, you are rather hit across ahead at the startAs you would expect from this genre of film there are a number of twists. If you read into the extras bit of my review you will see that I had one of the major ones ruined for me.
That said, there is a lack of subtlety when signposting some of these twists so I think I might have guessed it to a certain extent anyway. I still think that story develops in such a way that you would not be able to completely guess all of it, particularly as McAvoy becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator. There are also some quite nasty, short sharp visual shocks within it which take it unsettlingly into a sort of nightmarish territory in places.The performances are roundly very good although I think Cassel is a bit underused and his character a bit underdeveloped which is a shame because few actors do shadowy scuzzball quite like he does .
Without wanting to give toomuch away, the film does become less about McAvoy's character and more about Dawson's as the film progresses. I have to say that I think that she is brilliant in the lead role and whilst I think the film gains from the fact that she is not a massively famous actress and so you do not come to it with any preconceptions of her character. That said, the way she plays probably the most complex character in the film makes you wonder why she is not cast in leading roles more often.I found it evocative of a lot of the fun slightly schlocky erotic thrillers of the 90s such as Basic Instinct and The Last Seduction albeit with modern visuals and style.
I enjoyed its own take on the traditional femme fatale /film noir genre which is something which has gone a bit out of fashion in favour of more male driven fayre such as Gangster Squad in recent years.In hindsight looking back at the story it is a bit thin. Although it delves into psychological thriller territory and touches on memory, identity and hypnosis - it does not really explore them in any great depth. That said, I'm not entirely sure that it needs to in order to be enjoyable, and perhaps going to far into them in this particular film would have slowed down the slightly frenetic pace as it does seem to get going from the very moment that the film starts.I have to say that I do have issues with the ending.
The climatic action sequence develops from something quite gritty and horrible to something faintly ridiculous and I can see that some people would think that the very final scene is a bit pat and overdone. However, I do not think this is enough to really ruin what is a wholly enjoyable ride.
As you would expect of a Boyle film, it looks incredible. London is very much a character in the film but it has been filmed in a way which is fresh and new. In the Blu-Ray extras, Boyle states that he originally wanted to make the film in New York but had to do it in London instead because of his commitments with the Olympics Opening Ceremony. That I think has actually turned out to be for the best. We are used to seeing New York filmed in all kinds of guises, whereas I think that London has never been shot in this way before. I think some people may find the visuals a bit gaudy and overly flashy - Dawson's apartment is seemingly built in orange Perspex - but it suits the film perfectly.
The soundtrack (available separately) is once again for Boyle, a collaboration with Rick Smith of Underworld, so you know pretty much what to expect - a lot of thumping electronic music which really goes well with the pace and action within the film. Aside from that it probably has the most disturbing uses of M People's Movin' On Up and Chanson D'Amour that you will ever experience!
Deleted scenes - These are more extended scenes rather than deleted ones and are all realy rather brief and do not really add anything to your understanding of the film, apart from one where a MRI scanner scene is explained in more detail.
Special Features:Danny boyles film noir - talking about the fact that it is a central female character and how it fills into the film noir genre.
Hypnotherapy - discussion of the role of hypnotherapy in the film including how the research into it informed the filmmaking.The Look - some discussion aboaut the visual aspects of the film
The Power of Suggestion - He talks about some of the behind the scenes ideas and there is a particularly interesting discussion with regards to the Goya artwork in the centre of the film
Danny Boyle retrospective - Boyle gives a brief overview of all the films that he has made with Fox Searchlight (ie those from A Life Less Ordinary onwards).
The trailer is also featured.
.I have a couple of major criticisms to do with the Blu-Ray itself. As it was loadingto the main menu page it was very difficult to see which menu option you had chosen as the white text only highlights itself slightly. Therefore, we accidentallyclicked on an Easter Egg that appeared at the top of the screen by pressing the across button and didn't realise at the time. This Easter Egg was called 'Trance unravelled' and basically unpicks all of the twists in the film. This was quite annoying as it did reveal one of the major twists of the film which the story pivots on. So if you do get this Blu-Ray, be a bit careful!
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this film. I found it exciting, frenetic and visually stimulating. It is far from the most deep film you will ever see but while it last it is a bit of a blast!
This movie has its faults, but lets face it, Danny Boyle is a master film making, who never fails to surprise and engage the viewer.
It's hard to review 'Trance' without giving too much of the plot away, its multi-layered and beautifully filmed blurring fantasy and reality, fact and fiction, heroes and villains.
The basic premise is an art auctioneer, Simon, played by James McAvoy, who seems to be omnipresent at the moment, is implicated in the theft of an extremely valuable painting by Goya.
Unfortunately for him, a bang to the head causes his memory of what happened to the painting decidedly sketchey, which proves pretty inconvenient and sees him seeking the help of hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb, played by Rosario Dawson. Miss Dawson is impossible gorgeous and there's a fair bit of gratuitous full frontal nudity from her. However the cast is strong and the storyline will make you confused and perhaps slightly deflated in the end.
Director Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire), known for his style and recently famed for the London Olympics 2012 opening ceremony, brings us his latest film 'Trance', a hypno-heist-bloody-psycho-thriller.
Simon (James McAvoy), an art auctioneer, becomes involved with stealing a famous painting for Frank (Vincent Cassel), but when confronted at the auction house and the two enter a struggle, Frank hits Simon's head, leading to Simon's amnesia. When Frank discovers that the painting is missing from the briefcase, he tortures Simon but he does not remember.
The two seek the help of hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) in order to try to unlock Simon's memories. As they combat Simon's security issues and delve deeper into his mind, they discover he has an obsession with Elizabeth, a fantasy. Things complicate when Elizabeth and Frank's relationship also gets physical.
Jealousy, paranoia and suspicion within the trio's relationship threaten their goal to restore the painting's location, each one questioning the other's true intentions. Will the fragility of their relationships consume them all? Or will they find the painting before its too late?
From the opening sequence of the movie, the audience is assured that this would be a slick film. I was totally engrossed and at the edge of my seat for most of the movie. Speedy but interspersed with more subdued moments, the film is well balanced, and matched with Boyle's sexy but at times bloody style, makes for a very well paced and emotive film.
Stylistically dark and twisted, the themes of hypnotism, reality and deception are well integrated into the characters' relationships. Could the seemingly vulnerable Simon want the painting for himself? Is Frank going to kill Simon after? Is Elizabeth manipulating them all and seducing Simon for the painting? These questions pop up throughout as you guess what everyone's motives are.
The movie heightens when Elizabeth grows physical with both men. The relational tussle and power play erupts at that moment, leading to the film's explosive and tragic climax. What is real? How far will Simon's paranoia take him? The ultimate reveal is mindblowingly simple and yet seemingly obvious, but handled effortlessly to be consistently deep with the rest of the movie.
James McAvoy- Simon
Rosario Dawson- Elizabeth
Vincent Cassel- Frank
Also stars Tuppence Middleton and Danny Sapani.
McAvoy, Dawson and Cassel are perfectly cast as three distinct characters: vulnerable, seductive, aggressive and manipulative are just a few words in the great pool of characteristics they share. There is a strong chemistry between the three and towards the end, McAvoy and Dawson really break through with a distinct performance.
Whilst 'Trance' might not be as much of a mindfuck as 'Inception', it has enough deception and paranoia to keep you guessing and wondering what is and isn't real. The plot and themes are well sculpted in a movie that has visual style which is dark, edgy and sexy, ending with an explosive climax that has you at the edge of your seat. Danny Boyle at his best.
If you like this, you will like 'Drive' and 'Inception'.
I love James McAvoy as an actor and so when I noticed this film I knew I wanted to see it. The problem was my husband also wanted to watch Welcome to the punch which also stars James McAvoy and the films were released within just a few weeks of each other. We did find it hard to choose between the two and in the end we made a special visit two consecutive weekends so we could see both. This in my opinion was the better of the two films and this review will explain why. The film is written by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge. It is directed by Danny Boyle, so I was hoping for good things from the film and I was not disappointed.
Simon works as an auctioneer for fine art and one day a robbery takes place. He follows the rules and procedures and is hailed a hero, but we later find out he is an inside man and in fact stole the painting himself. He finds himself caught up with deadly criminals trying to find the painting worth 27 million GBP, but with amnesia after being hit in the head has he really has no clue as to where it is? As a last ditch attempt to find out where he has hidden it, they force him to visit a hypnotist in the hope she can bring the memories back. This idea sends the whole group into a physiological whirlwind that they never expected.
At the start I was slightly sceptical it would just be another heist film, but I was wrong. After the first 10 minutes you realise this film is going to be much more than that so there is no waiting around. The film is very fast paced, so right from the begging I was hooked and wanted to know how it was all going to end. This film explores relationships, trust and manipulation and how something simple can turn into the most complicated situations. It is something you need to watch, as the smallest things are actually part of the larger picture.
The acting is perfect from all involved, and while I am only really familiar with James McAvoy the whole cast seemed perfect in their roles. The three main characters are Simon (James McAvoy), a gambling art auctioneer looking for a way out, Franck (Vincent Cassel), the leader of the criminal gang that will do anything to try and get the painting back, and Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) the hypnotist hired to help Simon remember. With each scene they are all given equal parts and generally they all make you interested in their characters. Throughout the film they are careful to make each character just as important as the next, so you never actually know who the lead character in the story is, and so they are all equals and I think this has a great effect on the overall finish.
Each one of the actors manages to portray their characters perfectly right from the beginning, so the audience really feel like they know each and everyone to some extent. As time goes on, a little like Simons memory, pieces of the characters lives are exposed and start to build a bigger picture. I think it was important the characters were built upon so quickly at the start, making us believe we know what each party wants from the situation. It makes the rest of the film seem so much more intense and interesting. The story twists relationships as much as possible and because of the hypnotism theme it is hard to figure out what is real and what is fantasy.
What I loved about this film is you never know what will happen next. While it starts off a fairly simple plot it twists and turns every single minute through the movie. Once you think you have finally worked out just what is going on and where it will lead, something happens to throw you off again. For this reason right up to the last five minutes I was on my seats edge trying to figure just what was going to happen next. It jumps between scenes quickly which can be annoying, but at the same time it is that uncertainty that keeps you interested. The distrust between the characters makes the audience sceptical so you never really know who is bad and who is good.
While I do not usually comment on music in this film it really helps set the scene. With fast moving music for the action scenes and slower more thoughtful music for the hypnotism it really helps build the mood of the film. The camera work and the way it keeps moving back and forth in time and cutting scenes very quickly all build towards the films ending and is done perfectly. Age recommendation is 15 years and above which I think is correct. It has some brief sexual nudity, violence and generally themes of a more adult nature. It is not over the top, but there were some scenes I could not watch because I squirm even at fake blood!
I would highly recommend this film to anyone looking for an interesting physiological thriller. It twists and turns from the beginning of the film and the twists continue right up until the last minute of the film. What starts of as another heist movie quickly turns into something more meaningful, and it had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next. It is something you need to watch from the start until the end, but I found it highly enjoyable. It is something I would watch again, as I think it is a film you could watch a number of times and still pick pieces of the puzzle up that was missed the first time. While I would still know the ending, I think in knowing it would only make me pick up more of the clues given along the way. I would even go as far to say that this is the best film we have watched this year. Highly recommended!