My Spoiler-Free Thoughts on Danny Boyle’s “Trance”

I’m a huge Danny Boyle fan. I saw 28 Days Later… multiple times in the theater. I watched 127 Hours five times in 2011 alone. Between buying gifts for friends and an upgrade to blu-ray, I’ve bought more copies of Sunshine than probably anybody. And I cheered in glee like a maniac when he hopped like Tigger accepting the Best Directing Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire.

So you can imagine my delight when I attended a screening of Danny Boyle’s new mind-bending art heist thriller, Trance last night.

Screenshot_2013-04-10-11-04-13-1-1Trance tells the twisted story of a man looking for some lost art. Simon (James McAvoy) is the only person who knows the location of a stolen painting worth millions. Unfortunately, for him and his more aggressive employers, he suffered a blow to the head during the botched heist that erased the memory of where he put the stolen painting. The man in charge of the heist, Franck (Vincent Cassel), hires a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to recover the memory and the art.

From there, Boyle navigates us through an intricate web of deception, violence and sex. It all leads to a tense finale that expertly unravels the truth; not only about the painting, but about the characters as well. Trance does all this while managing to pack an emotional punch delivered by strong performances from the three leads.

Screenshot_2013-04-10-11-04-46-1When Trance comes out on blu-ray, I’m going to set aside the month to revisit Boyle’s career (and see the few titles of his I haven’t gotten to yet). Until then, I can’t fairly compare Trance against his entire career. But I will say Trance feels like vintage Boyle. His use of slightly skewed and tilted shots fit well with the highly cerebral mindfuckery on the screen. Boyle fans will also recognize the entrancing music of Underworld’s Rick Smith whose services have been used for Sunshine, Trainspotting and Boyle’s 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies.

I can’t give anymore details on the plot for fear of spoilers. But I can say that the movie is very stylish and at times ultra violent. If the reports of people fainting during the amputation scene in 127 Hours were real and not a PR stunt, I’d advise those people to sit this one out. The violence isn’t as extensive as 127 Hours, but it pops up briefly and is, at times, very gruesome.

Screenshot_2013-04-10-11-04-31Trance reminded me a bit of both Christopher Nolan‘s Inception and Following if they had been tied together with Boyle’s signature directing style and a tight, clever script. Writers John Hodge and Joe Ahearne (who wrote/directed the 2001 TV movie Trance is based on) carries the audience down a rabbit hole without spoon-feeding any of the complexity. Not to take anything away from Nolan. It’s just lately he’s written for a broad audience. It’s something I hope will be adjusted with his new movie Interstellar.

Screenshot_2013-04-10-11-05-00-1Trance is a movie that will see my money when it gets a wider theatrical release as well as being a day one blu-ray purchase. After putting out a pair of high profile Oscar movies, it’s nice to see Danny Boyle tackle a more cerebral, almost niche project. And I’m happy to say he did not disappoint.

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13 responses to “My Spoiler-Free Thoughts on Danny Boyle’s “Trance”

  1. This is getting mixed reviews so it’s nice to see such a positive opinion.

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  2. I really enjoyed Trance. Good stuff bud, awesome site. I am now following. I’ve been redirected through Fogs blog. I recently started my own film blog and would love for you to check it out.

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  3. One thing I hate are reading reviews of a film I have not seen that give too many details away – and I had actually been looking for a review on this film, but skipped most of them hesitant that the author would potentially spoil too much for me; so when I came across this entry I thought it was perfect. I was on the fence about this one, but now after reading your entry I think I’m going to go check it out. It sounds like the kind of movie I’m always looking for. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of Danny Boyle, but I loved “127 Hours” and simply b/c of that movie alone I always keep my eyes open to his other films coming out.

    I think I’m going to go see this tomorrow based on your recommendation – and allow me to offer you a recommendation “The Hidden Face”. It’s a spanish horror/thriller with a great twist, but DO NOT watch the trailer b/c it totally gives away the twist! By the looks of “Trance” I think “The Hidden Face” will prove to be right up your alley. Go into it COLD so you don’t run the risk of having anything spoiled b/c it would ruin the experience.

    I will let you know what I think of Trance in a day or two. 🙂

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    • I can’t stand reviews and trailers that give too much away! That’s why I’m always good about putting spoiler tags where they are needed.

      Trance is really good, though I am a bit biased considering I’m an admitted Danny Boyle fanboy. I’m eager to hear your thoughts on it. And thanks for the recommendation! I’ll check out The Hidden Face as soon as I get the chance. Thanks for the warning on the trailer. Hate when that happens.

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      • Okay, I went and watched this yesterday at the theater, and overall I liked it pretty well. I love movies that are unpredictable and keep you guessing. Obviously with this one, it was a bit confusing in parts and would serve most well with multiple viewings. I am still a little unclear on a couple things, but think I got the gist. It’s a lot to digest in one sitting, or at least it was for me.

        James McAvoy gave another stellar performance; he is always so great at conveying such strong emotion and using his eyes to lead. There’s a very short list of actors who could possibly take up Daniel Day-Lewis’s throne as top actor (only after DDL retires of course), and McAvoy has to be considered (along with Ben Whishaw); I think Vincent Cassell and Rosario Dawson gave strong performances, as well, but to me McAvoy outshined them.

        I thought the score was good and helped bring the story on-screen to life; I bought the soundtrack last night, and there are a few nice tracks on here, particularly “Bullet Cut” which I think has a nice and unique feel.

        The ending to me was a little Hollywood’ish I guess, but wasn’t too bad. I can forgive it since it was so unpredictable leading up to the last 5 minutes. It’s not that the ending was bad, but with the direction the movie took I was expecting something bigger and more mind-blowing. The movie sets you up to seemingly have this incredible ending…but then there isn’t one. I mean it was okay, it wasn’t bad – it just didn’t deliver as much as I was hoping for.

        But overall was an enjoyable experience that keeps you guessing and on edge pretty much from beginning to end. I’d give this a 7 out of 10 and recommend to others.

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      • That’s great! I’m glad you liked it. I agree that the ending was a little Hollywood friendly but I think the climax of the movie really compensated for that.

        McAvoy was amazing. He’s a great actor and I’m glad to see him getting more varied work. In my eyes, McAvoy, Gosling, Gordon-Levitt and Fassbender are some of the most promising actors working today. And McAvoy really shows it in Trance.

        I loved the music. Boyle’s movies always have amazing music in them. The music in Sunshine is some of my favorite movie music ever. It’s unfortunate that the music gets reused in trailers, other movies and some TV shows (looking at you, season one of The Walking Dead). It works beautifully in the context of Sunshine.

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      • McAvoy is on a different level than Gordon-Levitt. Joe is one of my favorite actors, but he doesn’t have the ability McAvoy has – at least not at this point. Gosling is probably my favorite current actor out there, but McAvoy has more range than him overall. I’m telling you the other up-and-comer to look out for is Ben Whishaw. He is going to be another DDL – Waltz – De Niro – Pacino – Hopkins type I believe in the future.

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      • As much as I love JGL, I will agree with you. JGL has this charisma and general like-ability that drives his performances. McAvoy has charisma, but his performances are more craft-based. If that makes sense.

        Shamefully the only thing I know Ben Whishaw from is Skyfall. I will definitely keep my eye out for him!

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      • He’s in Cloud Atlas; he’s just so poised for being so young.

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  4. Pingback: The Month in Movies: April 2013 | The Obsessive Viewer

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