johnlink ranks TRANCE (2013)

A coworker asked if I had seen Danny Boyle’s TRANCE, saying “check out Trance and let me know what you think of it.” I find that more intriguing than just saying something is awesome or something is must-see. Trying to find out what someone thinks of a movie means it is probably a movie which is open to interpretation and not just a standard flick. I finally got around to seeing it.

trance06

I watched TRANCE (2013) on 5.26.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

This is a film which starts like many other art heist films. A team, led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) robs an auction house. One of the guards on duty is Simon (James McAvoy). The painting is lost in the shuffle after Franck knocks Simon unconscious. After a stint in the hospital, the team tries to discern where Simon hid the painting. Convinced that he has lost his memory, they bring him to a hypnotist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), and try to uncover what he knows.

The film becomes a guessing game of what is happening in the real world, and what might be induced by hypnosis (though surprisingly little turns out to be). To confuse things, Director Danny Boyle applies his normal color palate and quick-cutting style to add to the hyper-realness of it all. I’ve accused him of some self-indulgent directorial masturbation in the past (most notably with 127  HOURS), but his style serves TRANCE perfectly. We are never fully comfortable with what we are seeing. The colors are too perfectly organized, the sound sometimes foggy, and the images often counter what we saw in the previous shot. Editor Jon Harris also deserves a good deal of credit for shaping the non-linear, and often non-literal, timeline of the film. This is a movie which would reward further viewing.

Trance film still

Some hubbub was made of Rosario Dawson going fully nude and using sex to get what she wants in this film. In fact, a careful viewing seems to contradict Elizabeth as anything but powerful. She manipulates much of what happens in the film, she has a very clear sense of intention, and she (I feel) genuinely does fall for one of the characters in the film.

What confuses her intentions, and the larger narrative in general, is that this is a film which toys with typical notions of hero/villain and the dynamics of control. There is a constant shift in the power dynamics throughout this film, and there is also a surprising shift in the likability of the characters from start to finish. All of this also serves to mask the glaring issue with the script: The entire film hinges on a series of dramatic coincidences in the moments during and after the robbery. The characters are good enough to withstand this, and the editing is a major asset in making these plot issues seem less prominent. While the characters would be more interesting in a second viewing, some of the holes in the plot might be more apparent.

Regardless, this is a really interesting movie to view. This is a solid piece of work from Danny Boyle, even if it will go down as one of his minor ones. There are many, many heist movies out there. This is one of the unique ones.

SCORES

FILM: 7; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 7; WRITING: 5; BONUS: 1

Bonus point for the editing. Really makes this movie work.

7+8+7+5+1=28

FINAL SCORE: 7 out of 10

 

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~ by johnlink00 on May 27, 2014.

5 Responses to “johnlink ranks TRANCE (2013)”

  1. I liked this review, but I want to comment on this part:

    “The entire film hinges on a series of dramatic coincidences in the moments during and after the robbery. The characters are good enough to withstand this, and the editing is a major asset in making these plot issues seem less prominent. While the characters would be more interesting in a second viewing, some of the holes in the plot might be more apparent.”

    I do not remember a single coincidence in the movie, but to avoid spoilers, I will NOT ask you to explain yourself here!

    Also, I do not expect you to respond anyways, as having such an expectation would make me presumptuous.

    However, if you do have the time and are so inclined, you are free to email me: danielbaron AT inbox DOT com

    //

    Now, I do, YES, agree that there are plot flaws — though again, you and I might disagree on the specifics.

    ////

    As for the rest of your review, I’m too bored to even open a new tab now (!), so I say the following with trepidation: I believe that Danny Boyle also directed TRAINSPOTTING, and if I’m right, then he deserves massive props for that movie! And if I’m wrong, I look like a lazy fool!

    • I’ll absolutely email you in the morning when I get into work (it’ll be a little long for the phone). But Boyle did direct the great Trainspotting, 28 days later, and slumdog millionaire. He has done some GREAT work.

  2. A lot of twists and turns here, and not all of them work, but the movie did keep me interested for the longest time. Until it just seemed to not really matter to me who was supposed to live, and who wasn’t supposed to. Good review John.

    • Yeah, I hear you. I think it was interesting how deceptive the protagonist/antagonist question was. Though, perhaps, that just leads to us not liking anybody.

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