Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Run Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes, Rated R
Starring: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Danny Sapani
Written by Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
You are getting sleepy. Very sleepy. No this is not me attempting hypnosis, but rather it is the after-affects of watching Danny Boyle's latest film, Trance (in theaters today). This mind-bending thriller from the crafty Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire) is a messy, chaotic and under-whelming session that made me long for a therapist's fingers to snap me back to reality.
James McAvoy is Simon, an auctioneer at a elite art gallery. The beginning scene is cut in Boyle's frenetic style, teaching us the ins and outs of how paintings sometimes get snatched and how modern-day security only pushes the criminal mind into working harder. It sets the stage for an art-heist and introduces us to a band of criminals - led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) - behind the snatching.
But even though most everything goes according to plan, Simon takes a hit on the head and when things clear up for him, they get all the more confusing. Turns out that the piece of art was missing from even the thieves and Simon apparently is the only one who knows where the 20+ million dollar painting is located. His injury, however, has given him a bad case of amnesia, much to the chagrin of his criminal counter-parts.
That's when we meet Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), a hypno-therapist who is randomly selected by Simon to help him extract the whereabouts of the painting from his mind. Of course, it is not nearly as simple as that.
What follows is a convoluted, unbelievable and totally hollow journey, based on a hokey premise by the way, that eventually propels us into the minds of these characters, and into the world of art. What is really happening and what is just in these characters minds? And more importantly, who gives a rip?
Stay with it, if you want what little pay-off is in store. The final 15 minutes is total exposition, a Scooby Doo villain walking through his entire plan so that the audience can understand. The explanations given are acceptable at best, but the problem is that the film wades in a confusing muck for way too long prior to these revelations.
Boyle - along with screenwriters Joe Ahearne and John Hodge - is much more interested in trying to be cool, than actually achieving coolness. For sure, Boyle creates beautiful imagery and sequences, but here it's all style and little substance. He pulls a career-worst performance from the lifeless Rosario Dawson, and even the talented Cassel and McAvoy struggle with some of the cheese-tastic, stilted dialogue.
In the art world, Trance is what you would refer to as a "fugaze." It wants to be art, but instead of achieving a point-of-view it instead relies on over-the top visuals (including wet paved roads in an underground parking garage?) and tired, "is-this-a-dream-or-reality," nonsensical trickery.
Boyle has shown that he is capable of better story-telling and this is definitely a film that we all hopefully will soon forget.
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