watchlist #3: trance

Trance, 2013

Good script. Great direction. Stunning performances. Trance got me glued to my seat from the opening line.



In Trance, directed by Danny Boyle (127 hours), the expression ‘mind fucked’ is taken to a whole new level. Modern, high-end interiors help creating this film where nothing is what it seems. Quite the trickster, Trance revolves around the story of Simon (James McAvoy), an auctioneer who, trying to prevent the stealing of a Goya painting, is hit in the head. Problem is, being hit in the head messes with his brain and he can’t remember where the hell the painting went. It would be misery enough if the painting wasn’t supposed to be in the hands of gangster Franck (Vincent Cassel), Simon’s partner in the stealing. In order to get Simon’s memory back, they try hypnosis – given that torture did not work out. That’s where things get really interesting due to the dear doctor’s professionalism, who asks in on the spoils.

To say more is to give away the story, so I will contain myself of any spoilers. If you liked Memento and Inception, this one is a treat for you. Maybe it is not as logical as those two, but it is worth the ride. You may want to apply the ‘suspension of disbelief’ thing here, but hey, it’s not like we never saw flawed logic in cinema before, right?

Rosario Dawson as the hypnotherapist Elizabeth

Rosario Dawson as the hypnotherapist Elizabeth

The opening scenes are really well done; catchy, to say the least. McAvoy’s accent is captivating (sorry, I am an accent lady) and his performance throughout the film deserves to be acknowledged. The thing of dream-within-a-dream does not work at all times and some sequences of Simon’s memories may be confusing, but again just give it all a chance. The scenarios (and the cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle per se) add a subtle dimension to the film with lots of mirrors and reflective surfaces. The score (by Rick Smith) also helps to create a certain not-so-real mood, sometimes with very evocative, nostalgic songs.

It is a bit dreamy, but overall Trance delivers a somewhat delirious plot that, if looked under the microscope may not resist for too long. But you can see there’s work there, and I don’t really think it was supposed to that logical all along. Memories are not logic either; they are fictions we made up to remember, or to cope with, events. Just get ready for some tension and adrenaline while you unravel Simon Newton’s screwed up brains.


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