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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Trance | James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel | Review

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2sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is BAD Judy Thorburn

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2lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is BAD

Trance

I love psychological mystery thrillers. Good ones, that is, not the kind that are so complicated you feel cheated because you are left with your head spinning from not being able to make heads or tails of what unfolded before your eyes. Trance, unfortunately fits that bill. What a disappointment, especially since the filmmaker is acclaimed director Danny Boyle, the same guy who delivered the terrific Oscar winning Slum Dog Millionaire and the emotionally riveting 127 Hours.  This time he clearly misses the mark.

Trance does start off on the right track with a promising premise before eventually veering off into ridiculous territory. James McAvoy plays Simon, an auctioneer for a fine art auction house in London.  In the opening scene he delivers a monologue detailing the precautions and security measures taken for the works of art before and after they are bid on.  “In the event of a “situation”, (meaning, an intended robbery) the valuable items are to be removed and taken to a place of safety”, he states.

That intro acts as the set up for what follows. During an auction where Goya's painting “Witches in the Air” receives a winning bid of $27 million, Simon finds himself in the midst of a robbery.  Following the rules he so precisely laid out in the beginning speech, Simon flees the scene with the painting. Eventually, he winds up having a nasty run in with the leader of the heist, Franck (French actor Vincent Cassel) resulting in a major blow to Simon's head. Soon after, he awakes in the hospital but has no memory of where he hid the masterpiece. Meanwhile, Franck and his cohorts ransack Simon's car and apartment but come up with nothing.  Believing Simon is faking amnesia, they decide to submit him to torture.  When that also comes up empty, a desperate Franck insists that Simon pay a visit to a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth Lamb (an effective, Rosario Dawson) an American doctor with a soothing voice, who has the power to dig into the recesses of Simon's mind and unlock his suppressed memories.

As the plot thickens involving a series of hypnotic sessions, suggestions, flashbacks and memories, it becomes hard to make out what is real as they all blur together and become way too confusing. Without giving away more, it is suffice to say that none of the main characters are as they seem. Sympathies and power shifts as information is revealed, not that any of it makes sense. Twists and turns and surprises are one thing. Incomprehensible storytelling is another.

On the plus side, Trance is stylish and visually enticing and Rick Smith's hard beating, powerful, music soundtrack lends support to the buildup of tension. However, they are not enough reasons for me to recommend this film.

To quote a line from the hypnotherapist, “You have a choice. Do you want to remember or forget?”

Rather than being an absorbing, well crafted story that had me entranced,  Trance is a frustrating mess that I choose to forget.

Trance is rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language.

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