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Trance | Movie Review


If you’re an ardent fan of films directed by acclaimed British film-maker Danny Boyle – like The Beach (2000), Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and 127 Hours (2010) – you’d be expecting his new work, Trance (Rated: M18, 101 minutes), to be delivered with his brand of stylistic visual flair, aided by, of course, a strong presence of music.

While style is in abundance here, substance is, however, impaired at several junctures. To start off, the story premise itself, written by Joe Ahearne (director of Doctor Who TV series) and John Hodge (Trainspotting), holds much promise: A gang led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) attempts to steal a multi-million-dollar Goya masterpiece during an auction. But while celebrating the success of the heist, Franck discovers that the prized painting is missing from the document bag in their possession.



A staff at the auction house, Simon (James McAvoy), is the “inside man” who helped make the heist possible; he is now suspected of betraying his accomplices. The problem is that he suffers memory loss after a concussion received during the robbery, so the location of the missing Goya remains locked up, out of reach, within his mind.

Enters Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), a beautiful hypnotherapist who tries to help Simon remember what his co-conspirators so desperately want him to recall. Thanks to Dawson’s whole-hearted performance – not to mention her full-frontal nudity onscreen – her character is the most enigmatic, begging this question from the audience: Could she be the smartest person in the film manipulating everyone else’s mind?



Boyle ensures tight pacing in this very entertaining psychological crime thriller, as the audience is held spellbound by the many twists and turns in the plot. Trying to guess where the real truth lies, or what’s going to happen next, is part of the fun. But some scenes feel awkward – with lead characters falling in love (and into bed) a little too hastily and unconvincingly. There are also scenes where loud music becomes obtrusive rather than complementary.

Definitely, there are times when this mind-bending trip feels like it comes straight out of the Nolanseque world of Inception (2010). It’s a pity that it doesn’t even quite rank among Boyle’s best offerings – a few tweaks to the plot could have made all the difference for a much more satisfying experience. Despite the flaws, there are still some key dramatic scenes searing with so much tension and intensity that they might just be the ones left lodged within your memory – rather than the film as a whole.




Text by: Dexter Yong
*Images sourced from Google Images


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