Friday, 29 March 2013

Review: Trance

Rating: 15
Duration: 101 mins

Having turned down the chance of a Knighthood, Danny Boyle maintains his status as the quintessential people's filmmaker. As humble as the man is, there's no denying his features possess a brutal rawness that by and large translates well and whilst his recent feature, Slumdog Millionaire, nabbed an incredible 8 Oscars in 2008, the bar it seems is ever rising.

Trance opens with a slick, concise monologue from James McAvoy's Simon that instantly draws you into his world. It's arguably as well conceived as the opening to 1996 smash Trainspotting, as we're hurriedly thrown into the life of an art auctioneer who, for reasons unknown, double crosses local thief, Franck (the wonderful Vincent Cassel), after agreeing to stage a £25m art heist. During the fray, Simon's hit over the head which renders parts of his memory useless -- specifically the part that knows the location of the hidden painting, and thus the story begins.

Aside from plot intricacies and skillfulness in direction, the acting is the driving force here; Rosario Dawson, assuming the role of hypnotherapist Elizabeth, is perhaps the most impressive on display. With a central female role that plays both Simon and Franck off against one other with her effortless and manipulative sexuality, a web of intrigue, twists and turns present themselves at regular intervals as the story delves further into a dark underbelly of morality and subconsciousness.

The majority of the story is monumentally gripping and intense as the narrative gradually becomes unhinged and threatens to derail. It's complemented, as always, by a majestic soundtrack that's both eclectic and appropriately surreal, which adds to the ferociousness of how the narrative spirals. Such is the intended nature of the seedy depths Boyle explores, and as boundaries of reality and imagination merge for Simon, the ambiguous disposition of what is actually taking place becomes lost.

The ride is a glorious and invigorating one that challenges audiences to decipher what's happening with minimal, subtle hints along the way. Its intelligible, non-spoon fed nature is somewhat undone when, during one dialogue-heavy scene, the haziness of events are explained. It is this latter moment where some confusion is finally alleviated, yet we're still none the wiser when attempting to identify the separation of reality from fantasy. This is perhaps both to the beauty and detriment of Trance's conclusion. It's at this point that the script becomes rather convoluted and teeters on losing focus altogether, but doesn't hinder the quality of what's preceded it.

Skittish and exhilarating, Danny Boyle has created a solid British thriller that excels with moments of excellently crafted double bluffs and deception, but will ultimately leave your brain scrambled as you question everything and trust absolutely no one.