Craig's Movie Breakdown: "Trance"


Three things to know before the film:

1. With "127 Hours" (the movie where James Franco plays the rock climber who has to cut through his own arm), "Slumdog Millionaire" (probably one of the biggest sleeper hits of all time) and zombie films "28 Days Later" and it's sequel "28 Weeks Later", and the 1996 film that launched his career "Trainspotting", you can't really argue with the career of British director Danny Boyle. The guy hits more than he misses.

2. This film re-teams Boyle with Rick Smith, of the rock band Underworld. Smith has created music for many of Boyle's films including "Trainspotting", "The Beach", and "A Life Less Ordinary."

3. The screenplay for "Trance" was written by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge. This will mark the fifth time that Boyle and Hodge are working together and the collaboration has yielded two successes but also two of Boyle's biggest failures. "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting" started the two out well but then "A Life Less Ordinary" with Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor and "The Beach", which earned Leonardo DiCaprio a Worst actor nomination from the Razzies, were both critical and box office failures.


The brain is always a tricky subject matter that directors, from Christopher Nolan, Michel Gondry, and Spike Jonze, have used to boggle as well as play with their audience and now we can add Danny Boyle to that list. His “Trance” is undeniably messy (both a good and bad thing here) but also incredibly entertaining.

He sets it in the art world where high-tech security (and Ukrainian commandos) have made stealing paintings all the harder nowadays but that does not stop art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy), his collaborator Franck (Vincent Cassel) and their team from stealing a Goya painting. The only problem is Simon has tried to con his mates as well, which leads to him suffering a blow to the head, causing amnesia and him forgetting where he put the painting. Enter Dr. Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson), a hypnotherapist who soon catches on to the danger Simon may be in and decides to help him.

The busy screenplay by Joe Ahearn and John Hodge is working a mile a minute. Hindrances with the brain like fears and obsessions slow down the process of figuring out what Simon did, we get romantic entanglements, we wonder what is real and what is just part of the therapy, and we also wonder who is manipulating who and what the motives happen to be. It’s a trippy good time that Boyle lends his typically pulse-pounding style to and his frequent collaborator Rick Smith’s techno soundtrack offers the perfect backdrop.

McAvoy, Dawson, and Cassel are also fantastic for never giving too much away about themselves other than little mannerisms you’ll probably miss the first time. It’s interesting to see how their roles change. Yes the movie is messy, which leads to a long, confusing expository flashback sequence in the end, and the constant plotting and character re-adjustment leaves little time to really feel emotionally invested in these characters but as a thriller “Trance” is an original and twisty piece of work that kept me involved throughout.

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