Trance Review
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Director Danny Boyle’s movies are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. The Oscar-winning director has tackled everything from sci-fi and horror to family comedy—and he’s even worked with James Bond and Queen Elizabeth. Now, for his follow-up to 2010’s tense drama, 127 Hours, he tries his hand at a crime caper in Trance.

James McAvoy stars as Simon, an art auctioneer who’s been trained to sell—and protect—some of the world’s most priceless works of art. When he finds himself hopelessly in debt, he offers to help a band of criminals steal the Goya that’s up for auction. In the confusion of the robbery, though, he ends up running off with the painting before getting hit by a car and forgetting where he left it.

Simon is desperate to get the painting and hand it over to the group’s leader, Franck (Vincent Cassel), so he turns to hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) for help. But the search for the painting quickly stirs up more than just greed among the group.

From beginning to end, Trance is a fittingly disorienting film. The truth of Simon’s story is revealed gradually, keeping audiences guessing as the picture slowly comes into focus. But even after it’s all relatively clear, it’ll still keep you guessing—because Boyle keeps the line between reality and hypnosis blurred. You’ll often wonder what’s real and what’s not—as well as who’s really in control of the situation. And you’ll never really know what’s coming next. It’s intriguing and suspenseful, with twists upon twists upon twists.

Not only is Trance a captivating film; it’s also a stylish film. No matter what kind of movie Boyle is making, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s going to be visually appealing—and this one is no exception. Here, Boyle plays with light and color and a plethora of other techniques to explore various levels of the characters’ consciousness. He tells the story through dreams and flashbacks and action sequences that sometimes feel almost dreamlike.

After a while, though, the film’s consistent tone begins to falter. What starts out as a tense and creative crime thriller has its share of slow moments as relationships get in the way of the action. Then, toward the end, it turns surprisingly dark, with some unexpectedly (and unnecessarily) gruesome moments.

By the time the credits roll on this curious caper, you’ll be used to feeling just slightly off-balance. The experience isn’t entirely satisfying, but it’s an enjoyably puzzling adventure nonetheless. So while this cinematic brain bender may be virtually impossible to crack, it’s still worth the effort.

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