Simon (James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer at a large auction house. To pay off a significant gambling debt, he joins forced with a gang led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) to steal a Goya. During the heist Simon is hit in the head hard enough to cause amnesia and when it is revealed that he has double crossed the gang, a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) is hired to try to recover his memory of where the painting is.
Trance is pretty standard Danny Boyle— bright colours, fast cuts and a great soundtrack – and of course, his cast is excellent.
Vincent Cassel is his patented totally calm and cool on the outside, with intense disturbing rage just under the surface. Rosario Dawson is understated but powerful as a woman caught up in a world she is unfamiliar with but finds exciting. James McAvoy does a good job of being pretty confused most of the time, and generally looking great in a suit.
Because the film is about memory, it’s pretty messed up and hard to follow in parts, although deliberately so. It’s designed specifically to make you wonder what is real at any given time, but takes the question of reality a little further to make you ask: if I am just a construct of my previous feelings, thoughts and experiences, what am I really?
Unfortunately, this constant questioning of what is real is the film’s biggest downfall – not because it is too confusing, but because the audience is conditioned by the film to disbelieve whatever is coming out of a character’s mouth. While this is an interesting plot structure, it has some unpleasant ramifications on the sexual and gender politics in the movie.
The central plot “twist” is obvious from very early on and the film does a terrible job of trying to hide where it’s going, leaving the audience waiting for the inevitable payoff rather than leading them down the twisting, turning path it is meant to be. This, mixed with sexual politics that border on offensive, make this a challenging film to watch from an audience patience perspective.
Is Trance opening weekend worthy?
Unfortunately, while Trance is well made this reviewer can’t make a sweeping recommendation to see it due to the sexual and gender politics that permeate the film. If you’re unbothered by borderline offensive treatment of women and blasé handling of domestic abuse, or are just a fan of Danny Boyle in general you’ll want to see this on a big screen so you can appreciate the lengths Boyle has gone to to mess with your mind.
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