• Trance wants to be an intellectual thriller that fascinates its viewers with plot complexity. At times, especially in the film’s intriguing opening act, it almost succeeds. In the end, however, it doesn’t.
  • Despite James McAvoy’s best efforts in playing Simon and Vincent Cassel’s in playing Franck. Both men deliver impressive performances, and the former makes a shift in characterization feel natural and genuine, unlike Mila Kunis of Oz.
  • None of the supporting actors stand out as being particularly great, but none are bad either.
  • As in other movies, Writer/Director Danny Boyle makes Trance beautiful and trippy. Between frantic cuts, hectic close ups, sometimes vibrant colors, and sometimes whitened sets, Boyle makes us feel Simon’s panic, anger and fear.
  • Unfortunately, the director’s screenplay is not nearly so effective. Start with making hypnosis an all-powerful technique that can fundamentally change the human mind. It can make you forget any and everything, including someone with whom you had a relationship. It can improve your golf game, or cause you to commit crimes that directly benefit the hypnotist, all without implicating her or him. It can cure eating disorders, and so much more.
  • Memo to Danny Boyle: real life hypnosis is not this effective. Like other mental health practices, it has several applications, but it isn’t magic. Nor is it akin to the machines used in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).
  • The plot also strains credulity. It is over-complicated, demanding viewers decipher obtuse clues as to Simon’s plan as well as his connection to other characters, most notably Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson).
  • Toward the end, because the clues have been so veiled, Trance becomes exposition heavy, finally explaining a complex web of betrayal, deceit and inter-connectedness. As such, its climax is a slow drone of information dumps, instead of an exciting sequence of events.
  • All of this is further complicated by weak character development. None of these people are three dimensional, and we only casually understand any of their personalities, facts that might be troubling even if the plot worked. Since it doesn’t, the characters ruin the movie.
  • In other words, despite strong performances and Boyle’s interesting direction, Trance isn’t good.
  • Final Grade: F

10 thoughts on “Trance

  1. There’s a lot going on here, and while most of it may be interesting, the characters aren’t. And I think that all stems from the fact that since they can’t trust one another, neither can us, and so we’re just left watching a bunch of screw the other one over. Good review.

  2. I thought the film was great – sure the story requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, but at least it was entertaining and stylish. I thought Elizabeth was a beautifully developed character.

  3. Wow! An F? I actually really got into Trance. It was a bit unbelievable but I still had a lot if fun with it. Unfortunately my review of it was accidentally deleted but I gave it 4 stars.

  4. Agreed, I saw this with high expectations, I love Danny Boyle and Trainspotting is still one of my fave movies ever. The movie is beautiful and the rest just feels like it’s trying to hard. I did like Vincent Cassell in it, but he’s a good actor he can do anything!

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