How does a man top the feat of masterminding of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony? Not easily. That’s why I feel critics have been too harsh on Danny Boyle’s lastest feature film, Trance. Hype can be a dangerous thing if it spirals out of control, especially if you’re Britain’s golden boy and all eyes are on your next move. However, I like to go into a Danny Boyle film with a casual feeling and, I hate to say it, not expecting much. I love the visceral images he projects on to the 40ft high screen and the smashing together of genres unexpectedly. Sunshine is a great example of this; I went in with the pretense of a disaster film and I was literally clinging to my seat for dear life when it switched to a survival horror. Everything the reviewers seem to hate, I actually really enjoy the most.
James McAvoy (echoing Ewan McGregor 2.0) is a fine art auctioneer who is mixed up as the inside man of Vincent Cassel’s £25m heist. After Cassel ends up with nothing more than a bag containing an empty frame, he employs Rosario Dawson’s hypnotherapist to delve into McAvoy’s amnesiac mind to recover it. Over the course of the 101 minute running time you really are throwing the dice of which of the 3 central characters to trust. It’s so engaging that I was constantly questioning everything while at the same time keeping track of what was real or not. It starts as a heist movie and then evolves into a psychological thriller. Everyone delivers a marvellous performance, and Cassel oozes with Parisian cool whilst showing a menacing side too. Some viewers may find the characters to be two dimensional as we are just thrusted into their situation. But if we spent screen time viewing their daily routines and getting to know them, the toeing and throwing of trust is lost.
Anthony Dod Mantle’s visuals are mesmerising, and appropriately so. The multiple reflections suggest a world that can’t be trusted and the neon glows show the sinisterness of this London noir. Each digital frame is crisp with rich detail with calculated camera movements to back it up. The transitions are slick and seamless keeping the pace of the film constantly high. This film can get quite graphic at times, especially when Vincent Cassel emerges from behind the kitchen counter with half a head missing in one of the trance sequences. Underworld’s Rick Smith is on techno soundtrack duty, but in my opinion John Murphy’s Sunshine score can never be beaten. The film has all the DNA of Boyle’s early 90s features compiled with the new techniques he’s developed along the way to the Oscars with Slumdog Millionaire.
I didn’t deconstruct Trance straight away after walking out of the cinema. But a great film will stay with you hours/days/weeks after the screening. Maybe it’s not meant to make sense. Not every single has to be a number one, but this definitely reaches the top 10.