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.
Trance 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.
When 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.
Trance 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.
Trance 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.