Movie review: Trance


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.

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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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