Trance

26 Mar

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There have been few film trailers that have whet my appetite for a film as much as the Trance trailer did when I first saw it. My excitement for this movie has been building over the last month or so and I was fortunate enough to see a preview screening.

So, the story; Simon Newton (James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer. At the films opening, he is explaining the procedure for moving valuable works of art to safety in the event of a robbery. We’re told the key phrase that you’ll be reminded of, and is worth keeping in your head throughout; “No piece of art is worth a human life”.
Sure enough, at his next auction there is an attempted robbery. Things don’t exactly go according to plan and, in an apparent attempt to be the hero, Simon is knocked unconscious. Fast forward to him regaining consciousness and we find out that he has stashed the prized piece of art somewhere, but after the hefty blow to the head he can’t remember where. The would-be thieves aren’t happy.

Simon is convinced by the leader of the merry gang of thieves, Franck (Vincent Cassel), to consult a hypnotherapist in an attempt to unlock the memory of where he stashed the painting. He chooses to see Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson).

From here, the plot twists and weaves more than a really twisty and weavey thing. As the movie progresses there are several times when you think you know where it’s all heading, but guess what? You probably don’t.

Danny Boyle has earned that most clichéd of titles in the UK, that of ‘National Treasure’ – it’s hard to argue that it’s a tag that’s well deserved. Here, he provides an absolute masterclass in story telling. I’ve said before that I often find I have a problem with stories that produce twists you could never guess – I like it to be hinted at and to feel like a natural part of the tale. Well, that’s what we have here.

Boyle feeds us just enough information in all the right places to keep the story moving and to maintain the viewers interest. There are several big reveals throughout the film, all of which feel right and perfectly timed. It was pleasing to me that, whenever the story changed direction, it never felt forced. It takes massive skill to tell this story as well as Boyle does, I can’t really praise it highly enough.

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I also loved the filming style in this movie. It looks very polished and sharp but there are a few things that become more and more interesting as the film goes on. One thing that grabbed my interest early was the tilted camera angles being used. It’s a simple trick, a slightly off-kilter way of shooting that pulls you in, but it worked a treat for me. One major point of interest to me was the use of reflections. So many times throughout the film we see scenes shot via reflected images, whether they be in windows, mirrors or super-shiny walls. Whether Boyle is trying to convey any messages through this, or just thinks it looks good, is for you to interpret. I found it fascinating and striking though.

Another highlight for me was the score. The use of music was another element I found to be excellent and at all times compliments the mood of the film. It’s ramped up exactly when it needs to be to aid the tension and is just another facet of the film that impresses.

So we’ve got an excellent story and some direction of real ingenuity and brilliance. Now all we need is good actors and boy does Trance deliver. One week ago, I saw Welcome To The Punch and I wrote then that McAvoy was never allowed to be at his best due to poor work from his director. Trance is so far removed from that appraisal though. Aided by an intriguing story arc, McAvoy plays his tormented character to perfection. He is an extremely talented actor and takes to this lead role well.

Rosario Dawson too is in great form. Her hypnotherapist anchors the whole film and it is her character that leads a lot of the confusion and thrusts us head first into the twists that move the story along.

Completing the trio of lead actors is Vincent Cassel. He’s full of calm and measured menace and, as with Dawson, you’re never quite sure what his intentions are and where his loyalties lie. The three of them feed off each perfectly, creating complex characters that you will become emotionally invested in; You won’t necessarily know if you like them or not though. Each of them is given just enough back-story to play with, and are allowed to soar with wonderful character development.

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My first thoughts after Trance were that it was excellent and I would love to see it again; Hopefully I’ll get chance to catch it again at the cinema as it is a very cinematic film and looks glorious on the big screen. I think it’s a movie that will improve with further viewings. I initially figured I’d be giving this a 9/10. But the more I think about it, the more I just can’t see where to mark it down. So, Trance achieves the honour (ha!) of being the first movie on this blog to achieve a perfect score and comes with a massive recommendation from me.

10/10

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One Response to “Trance”

  1. biggreenjelly March 29, 2013 at 12:14 #

    We couldn’t feel more differently about the soundtrack. Otherwise though I think we have taken some similar things away from the movie. Great review as always. Bastard.

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