Trance Movie Review
How does the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire make a movie with Inception-like qualities and starring Charles Xavier only to have no one knows it exist? It's hard to say, but Trance, now on DVD and Blu-ray, is an intriguing, mind-bending but not entirely fulfilling thriller.
Trance stars James McAvoy as an art auctioneer who partners with a group of criminals (led by Vincent Cassel) to steal an almost-priceless-but-still-25-million-pound painting. While in the act, he is knocked unconscious and forgets where he put the painting, which is the last thing you want to do in an art heist. In an effort to track down the painting, his partners hire a hypnotist (Rosario Dawson) to tap into his mind.
It's a plot that only makes sense in the movies, and a plot that sets the stage for Danny Boyle to visualize mind tricks as the characters seamlessly shift in and out of reality scene-by-scene, or even within a single scene. Strangely, Boyle rarely injects the visual flair one has to come to expect from him, one of many reasons the final product is far less gripping than it so easily could have been.
When all is said and done, Trance has a pretty basic plot that is just layered upon layer upon layer of other stuff to make it feel more complex than it actually is. It meanders at times and even at only 100 minutes could have been tightened to heighten suspense and increase pacing. I fell asleep once, but that's because I was tired and had no right watching a movie that requires you to actually pay attention at that time of night.
When I woke up after my beauty sleep, refreshed and reinvigorated, I returned to Trance for its final act, which twists and weaves itself to a semi-satisfying finale, or at least one you have to acknowledge as being sort of smart. This kind of ending has been done before to typically dreadful results, so Boyle deserves some credit for more or less pulling it off.
Take it or leave it, Danny boy.
Trance is a thriller that wanted to be more elaborate than it actually is. With a more complex story it could have really worked, but instead it has to settle for fluctuating between decent and frustratingly mediocre, a shame because it's so close to being excellent. That, in the end, may be the most mind-bending part.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.