Film Review: Trance


Trance has an interesting premise and some great visuals, but it has a serious problem of telling instead of just showing; or shut the fuck up Rosario Dawson.

Now, Ms. Dawson is fine and all, I just wanted her character to stop talking. Though I wasn’t so lucky as she grabs the audience’s hand and never lets go as Boyle for some reason decides to have her narrate the entire film. Yes, you can say that her voice is supposed to put us in the mind of the characters being put under hypnosis, or as an audio cue that what we are seeing might not be real, but I don’t get why he can’t just let the visuals stand on their own. All the pieces are there to visually understand the story, so why all the hand holding!

If you are curious about the film still after my rant it follows an art heist gone wrong and jogging the memories of the one person who can finish the job. Rosario Dawson plays the hypnotist, James McAvoy the memory impaired key and Vincent Cassel as our potential thief. The twists and turns the story takes are often interesting and keep you on your toes, it’s just that the aforementioned execution kept me from enjoying the picture.

The script fills the film with lots of crazy ideas and imagery and Boyle’s visual eye is not slouching in anyway shape or form. He executes the visual elements to the film wonderfully, they borderline save the film and he pulled me out of the muck of the voice over on many occasions. Though, he also approved the voice over there in the first place so I don’t know how much credit to give. I am glad Boyle keeps changing things up and keeps playing in different genres, I am ecstatic that his visual storytelling shows no signs of weakness, I just wish he had a better script or more confidence in his audience that we can keep up with the story primarily on the visuals. There aren’t many movies where shaved vaginas and half blown off heads are crucial plot points. The film is also full of a number of great and clever shots that feel fresh, but with that noticeable Danny Boyle touch.

The cast in the picture is fine, McAvoy’s charm and good looks work really well for the film’s final reveal. Rosario Dawson’s character might talk too¬†much, but she is sexy and believable when she isn’t trancing us. I love some Vincent Cassel, and he is great, he just doesn’t get a whole lot to do.

The film just has me really wrestling with myself as I think it does some really interesting things plot wise, I just wish the message was delivered better. Boyle has a game cast, some engaging ideas, but he lets his lack of faith in the audience tear down the film. I might be being too hard on it (I got worked up every time Dawson’s character started talking like nails on a chalk board) and the voice over certainly hampered my enjoyment of the film in the second half, but I am not entirely sure a second viewing will remedy this. Still, as a big fan of Boyle I think this might be my least favorite entry in his filmography and that is never a good feeling to have about a filmmaker.

Trance is a C-

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