{2jtab: Movie Review}

Trance - Movie Review


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5 stars

Moody, stylish, and brimming with edgy atmosphere, Danny Boyle’s genre-bending psychological thriller Trance is the Trainspotting director doing what he does best. Only this time he does his thing in the world of fine art, applying his hard-edged style to an elaborate art heist story that dives into the dark heart of extreme human behavior.

As the film opens, we meet Simon (James McAvoy), a Scottish art auctioneer who plays the inside man on an elaborate heist in which he steals a priceless Goya painting to cover his mounting gambling debt. When things go dangerously awry following a blow to his head, the story quickly turns into a high stakes triangle of treachery and deceit as Simon and his cohorts become entangled in a brain-puzzling dilemma to help him remember where he put the painting.

Simon’s partners in crime are sophisticated gang-leader Franck (Vincent Cassel), who is horrified that the meticulously-planned heist has taken a dangerous turn into amnesia and the secrets of the human mind, and Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson), a charismatic but calm hypnotist charged with delving into the dark recesses of Simon’s subconscious to uncover the location of the stashed painting. The deeper they dig however, the more it becomes clear that what remains hidden is not just Goya’s Witches in the Air,  but disjointed fragments of secrets, temptations, and treacheries that may or may not be real, and that may or may not eventually uncover the goods.

Working beneath John Hodge’s puzzle box script are Rick Smith’s pulsing, hypnotic score and cinematographer Andrew Dodd’s dreamy visuals that beat in perfect unison to put the audience in a fluctuating, unstable hypnotic state as we put our mind to work - along with the characters - solving this non-linear puzzle. In fact, we spend about half the movie wondering just what the hell is going on, and are never certain about what is real and what exists only in Simon’s mind. Or in Franck’s or Elizabeth’s, for that matter.

But by the time we finally snap out of Trance, we’re left staggered, clinging to our seats admiring the brilliance and processing the significance of what just happened. Thanks to Elizabeth’s elaborate voice-over explanation that stops well short of tying everything up in a nice tight bow, we learn of  her very modern redux of the classic femme fatale character. Initially, we’re sure Elizabeth Lamb is just an appropriately-named, meek-intentioned piece of eye candy in the service of a man’s salty world of greed and corruption. But as the story unfolds, both her fangs and dangerous power are slowly revealed.

Though many will undoubtedly criticize Boyle’s use of a revealing voice-over, dismissing it as a film-school amateur device to get the story out of the sticky corner it painted itself into. But it’s the way Boyle plays out the action beneath the text - with beautifully gritty, but often distorted imagery, as if always viewed through a kaleidoscopic prism - that forces us to see his world in a slightly warped or ever-so-twisted way that doesn’t broadcast there’s something perverse going on. And boy, is there something perverse going on.

A second viewing will certainly be in order once the shock and awe of Boyle's Trance eventually wear off. The non-linear plot-line and the web-like narrative are just that intricate and won’t be completely unthreaded in a single viewing. But that's what makes this thing so compelling. Just when you think you’re in control of your conscious moments...boom! Start all over again.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Trance - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language.
101 mins.
: Danny Boyle
: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Cast: Rosario Dawson; James McAvoy; Vincent Cassel; Danny Sapani; Tuppence Middleton
Genre: Thriller | Crime | Drama
Memorable Movie Quote: "The choice is yours. Do you want to remember or do you want to forget?"
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: April 12, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 23, 2013.

Synopsis: An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Trance - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 23, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Mandarin (Traditional), Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1; Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1; Turkish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy; Digital copy (as download); D-Box

All I can say is sit back and enjoy the eye candy.  This is an HD transfer for the books, with grain nearly completely absent and crush never distractingly present.  From his neon pastel lighting and color scheme, to the home video feel of some of the hypnosis sequences, every shot of Danny Boyle’s latest release oozes with style and subtext.  The 1080p transfer from 20th Century Fox is stunning reference quality.  Its MPEG-4 AVC encode is rich with eye-popping colors and neon graces the picture with nice textures.  The digitally shot video shows no aliasing, digital noise, or compression flaws. Even some of the purposely grainy or out of focus scenes have a crispness that other releases should be jealous of.  The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix takes great advantage of side and rear channels, even though this wasn’t an effects driven film.



  • None

Special Features:

Surprisingly, this release – while missing a commentary track - has quite a satisfying assembly of special features. A supplemental entitled The Power of Suggestion recaps the processes of making the film and the construction of the narrative from its influences. This release also features a good round-up of interesting Deleted Scenes. Also attached is an informative and intriguing Danny Boyle Retrospective and the Short Film Eugene by Spencer Susser, which confuses me.  It’s similar in style but literally has little to do with this film.

  • Deleted Scenes (17 min)
  • Power of Suggestion: Making Trance (34 min)
  • Danny Boyle Retrospective (15 min)
  • Short Film: Eugene by Spencer Susser (13 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

{2jtab: Trailer}