Movie review: Trance 

click to enlarge James McAvoy in Trance.
  • James McAvoy in Trance.

Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, The Beach, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours: Danny Boyle directs with exclamation points. He uses big - BIG - colors, bold premises, herky- jerky edits, camera angles that disorient you because that - THAT - is part of the fun of it (whispered: even when fun isn't the goal).

Trance took me on a teacup ride. I liked being whipped around - STYLISHLY - at the beginning of the trippy caper movie (or trip movie featuring a caper). Even as the goings-on became more confusing, I hung in there, because you've just got to respect a film where a shaved beaver is an integral plot point (FYI: after 16 years as NUVO's movie reviewer, this marks the first time I've ever used the phrase "shaved beaver." I feel free.) Later, everything got so confusing that I couldn't spoil the film if I wanted to, but I didn't object. I was too dizzy.

De rigueur paraphrased plot description, including two spoilers too obvious to be of concern: Simon (James McAvoy, employing his agreeable natural Scottish accent) is a nattily-dressed fine art auctioneer secretly working with a group of criminals to steal an extremely valuable Goya painting. But wait, the scam goes awry when Simon gets hit in the noggin during the heist and awakens with no memory of where he hid the painting. After threats and torture fail, gang boss Frank (Vincent Cassel) hires hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to climb in Simon's head and do some exploring. But wait, when it comes to Elizabeth, there's more than meets the eye.

Secret alliances and shifting allegiances, but it sounds simple enough. Too simple, which spurs Boyle to teacup it up - hey, that was a NICE one - in order to keep us engaged. And so the flick goes, flashing and jump-cutting and generally playing like Inception Lite, only with a shaved beaver. The point came where I stopped feeling invested in the characters and just watched as they were moved around by Boyle and cowriters Joe Ahearne and John Hodge like boys playing with action figures in the backyard on an overcast day. Trance is busy - BUSY - and ultimately silly. If you look at your movies holistically, take caution.


Rated R · 101 min. · 2013
Official Site: www.trancethemovie.com
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Joe Ahearne and John Hodge
Producer: Christian Colson and Danny Boyle
Cast: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Tuppence Middleton, Sam Creed, Lee Nicholas Harris, Danny Sapani, Ben Cura and Hamza Jeetooa

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What others are saying (13)

L.A. Weekly James McAvoy Stars in Trance, Danny Boyle's Take on the Inception Genre The payoff for solving puzzle films is a collaborative rush — in working out the filmmakers' jigsaws, viewers are invited into the moviemaking process. Look at the uber-combative message boards about Primer, or brave the theorizing of Room 237, the docu-analysis of The Shining (reviewed in this section). One subgenre... by Zachary Wigon 04/04/2013
Indy Week Danny Boyle's heist film Trance is slick Trance feels like a film made by someone auditing a community college course in hypnotherapy by day and watching Inception on repeat every night. by Neil Morris 04/10/2013
Memphis Flyer In Dreams Director Danny Boyle returns to his techno-’90s roots in Trance. by Greg Akers 04/11/2013
10 more reviews...
Creative Loafing Charlotte Trance a hypnotic thriller Rating: *** by Matt Brunson 04/12/2013
Charleston City Paper Sedated three-way tangles in Boyle's Trance Trance comes out of the gate a bit meaner as a midday hold-up of a London auction house goes somewhat sideways and the coveted object of the heist, Goya's "Witches in Air," winds up missing. by Tom Meek 04/10/2013
Boise Weekly Trance: An Electric New-Age Noir With Plenty of Rosario Dawson Also opening this week: The Place Beyond the Pines. by George Prentice 04/12/2013
The Coast Halifax Trance Hypnosis heist = coolest genre of 2013? by Jacob Boon 04/18/2013
Tucson Weekly Slick and Silly Danny Boyle's directorial hot streak comes to an end with 'Trance' by Colin Boyd 04/18/2013
Arkansas Times Not so entrancing 'Trance' forgets plot, character development in all the flash. by Sam Eifling 04/18/2013
Creative Loafing Atlanta Stylish Trance leaves viewers less than spellbound Danny Boyle's hypno-thriller falls short of entrancing intro by Curt Holman 04/11/2013
Portland Mercury Mind Playing Tricks On Me Danny Boyle trips out in Trance. by Erik Henriksen 04/10/2013
Colorado Springs Independent Trance puts a fun spell on reality The whole shebang simply embraces its own absurdity from the get-go. by MaryAnn Johanson 04/10/2013

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