Film Review: ‘Trance’

Rosario Dawson is shown multiple times over in Danny Boyle's "Trance" Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Rosario Dawson is shown multiple times over in Danny Boyle’s “Trance”
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

‘Trance’
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel
Rated: R
3 (out of 5) Globes

In viewing “Trance,” one word comes to mind: Gory. Danny Boyle, we know you won an Academy Award, but do tell us — did we really need to see a half-headless (yet still somehow speaking!) Vincent Cassel blown to bits by a gun? Or a maggot-infested decomposing body in the backseat of a trunk?

Surprisingly, this is not spoiling much, because this movie, as its title suggests, is a back-and-forth game between reality and an imagined world of which our protagonist — or really antagonist — Simon (James McAvoy) is, thanks to his hypnosis treatment, a part. Simon is in treatment because he stole a very valuable painting for a group of criminals he’s indebted to, and after a serious lob to the head, the poor bugger can’t remember where he put it.

He decides to seek treatment via an intriguingly beautiful hypnotherapist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), whose soothing cadence and demure wardrobe are a far leap from Dawson’s days as Mimi in “Rent.” It’s easy to fall asleep just listening to her work her magic on Simon. But boundaries cross fairly quickly —taking Elizabeth out of the comforts of her serene office — and audience members are sure to perk up (in more ways than one) when she struts into one scene totally naked. By the way, the lingering camera shot over her nether regions is actually a peculiarly important plot point.

As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that Simon’s problems go far beyond the painting in question. His tangled past catches up to him, leaving the film ripe for a perilous climax.

The film is an examination of the many layers of conscious and subconscious (and man, are there a lot of them). The heightened suspense is reminiscent of “Inception” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” except the alternate realities here aren’t as easy to follow. Perhaps this is Boyle’s way to get us to open our wallets again and again in an effort to have us answer any of our unresolved questions. But when reality and the imaginary mix to this degree, it’s hard to remain invested. Eventually, when you think you have it all figured out, only to be thrown for yet another loop, one starts to get annoyed. Despite a really enticing production for the senses — a pulsing soundtrack, gritty London scenery, and hello, James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson — sorry, Mr. Boyle, but our brains are too tired to give this another shot.


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