Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Trance’ Review: Boyle’s Thriller is a Brilliant Mind-Bender

Fans on Inception: This is a film for you. Prepare to have your mind warped, shocked and whipped in director/writer Danny Boyle’s (127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire) newest thriller, Trance.

Simon (James McAvoy) is a fine art auctioneer, working in London at one of the most prestigious art houses in the world. In order to get himself out of debt, Simon teams up with a criminal gang headed by Franck (Vincent Cassel), to steal a multi-million dollar Goya painting. During the heist, Simon gets knocked out losing part of his memory, which makes him forget where he hid the painting.

Franck convinces (more like forces) Simon to try hypnotherapy in order to figure out where he put the painting. Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) is the hypnotherapist who is going to help Simon retrieve the hidden canvas so he can be free from the clutches of the gang. As the film really takes off around the second act, we’re never quite sure who is a good guy, bad guy or central player in the game of finding the painting.

Trance is really a film for everyone. There’s action, thrills, mystery, romance, seduction and even a touch of horror. In 2010 it was Inception, in 2012 it was Looper, now in 2013 its Trance, and you really need to get yourself to a theatre and see it.

We’ve never seen James McAvoy in a film quite like this one. The Scottish actor is usually prone to playing the good guy (Professor X in X-Men: First Class) or the handsome man candy (Penelope, Becoming Jane and Atonement). McAvoy’s Simon is unlike any other character I’ve seen in movies this year. He’s smart, complicated, obsessed and even a bit scary. Brave to Mr. McAvoy for giving one of my favorite performances of the year.

Rosario Dawson has never been better as the she-devil hypnotherapist Elizabeth. Her character is the most interesting in the film because she is so dimensional. Dawson adds a layer of seductress overtop of the calming therapist, creating a complicated and intriguing woman.

No matter how brilliant a film’s screenplay and actors are, a beautiful score always makes a film better. Composer and singer Rick Smith’s technical and hypnotic (literally) tracks that surround Boyle’s film are purely magical. I listened to the soundtrack the other day and completely relived the movie; the score is so crucial to the overall film.

Boyle’s screenplay is already electric and Smith’s score completes the picture; but its McAvoy and Dawson’s striking performances and profound chemistry that make Boyle’s film an instant masterpiece.

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