Thursday, April 18, 2013

'Trance' Doesn't Fully Take You Under

Danny Boyle's Trance wants to make you scratch your head.  I certainly did.  The mind-bending thriller about a ravenous hunt of a stolen Goya painting made me say, "Huh?" more than once while watching.  The problem is that Boyle assumes everything is wrapped up by the end when in reality it just gets tiresome.

James McAvoy plays Simon, an art auctioneer who tells the audience, that, in the event of a robbery or heist, don't be a hero.  In the opening sequence, we see Simon and other auctioneers following the steps to ensure a valuable piece of art isn't stolen (I wish the movie was more about this because I found it very interesting).  During an auction for Goya's "Witches in the Air," thievery ensues, and Simon takes the proper precautions to secure the painting.  As he is about to finish the final step, he is confronted by Franck (Vincent Cassel).  Apparently, Simon feels the need to forget all of his training and tries to stop Franck, resulting in him getting knocked in the head with a gun, and Franck gets away with the painting.

Or so he thinks!  When Franck opens the case holding the painting, all he finds is an empty frame.  After Simon is released from the hospital, Franck and some goon-y guys pay Simon a visit and demand to know what Simon did with the painting.  We learn that Simon was in on the operation, but, since Franck unexpectedly bashed him on the head, Simon can't remember where he put it. 

Franck hires Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson), a hypnotherapist who specializes in patients with amnesia, to help unlock Simon's brain in order to find the Goya.  She soon discovers that Simon is in trouble and becomes very invested in the seedy group.  The more Elizabeth puts Simon under, the more involved they become, and the more scatterbrained the movie becomes.

Something about Trance intrigued me.  The performances are good (I always like seeing McAvoy), and Boyle keeps the pace of the movie going, but I couldn't help but think that he was enjoying messing with everyone's heads.  It's as if he throws twelve balls into the air and he forgot how many he tossed.  By the end of it, it gets so many and proposterous that I stopped caring.  It's hard to talk plot specifics without spoiling it completely, but the big reveal at the end unmoved me.  I didn't believe it. 

I can just imagine Boyle in a meeting trying to pitch the movie ("It's just like Inception!  With ART!").  His signature cinematography and throbbing music are on full display, but it's just a bit too chaotic. 

Art is subjective, though, so check it out for yourself. 

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