Film & TV

Review – Trance

Danny Boyle’s Trance is certainly a hypnotic 101 minute therapy session that leaves you feeling like you’ve received the treatment you paid for, but sadly, it is not the transcendent masterpiece that many may have been hoping for. Providing a synopsis here would simply be an unnecessary regurgitation of the trailer’s (see below) concise expression of the premise. However, due to some unwelcome changes in direction, what we receive in the end is something vaguely unlike the exiting thriller the trailer promised, and in Danny Boyle’s hands Trance had the potential to be a film of far greater quality.

From the establishing shot, we enter Boyle’s trance, which is so mesmerising that for the initial third of the film, someone could be throwing popcorn at your face and you would probably fail to notice. Unfortunately, from this point on, we begin to fall in and out of this state of cinematic hypnosis, which becomes a battle between liking and disliking the film. After a fantastic and intriguing opening that stays loyal to everything that one could have possibly assumed about Trance, the narrative shifts its focus towards the romantic subplot. Trance languishes into the grasp of a predictable, inevitable and certainly disappointing descent into a story about love that conflicts an already complex relationship between the three primary characters (played by James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel).

However, as a much appreciated relief at the film’s climax, Boyle concludes his power over the audience in the way that he began: in an entranced state. Perhaps the simplest way to describe one’s structural enjoyment of Trance (that is, how we go back and forth in liking the film) is to compare it to a sandwich – with two delicious layers of bread that just about maintains the overflowing filling – the start and finish of Trance certainly making up for some tasteless and unwanted revelations in the middle. Boyle’s steady hands manage to leave you more than satisfied at the last bite, and the pacing and length of Trance are perfect. It is also worth crediting the sound department for their excellent ability to consistently produce a hypnotic tone that is so well suited for a film that explores the mind.

Trance is an effortlessly watchable and often therapeutic experience that is undoubtedly worth a chance. Indisputably, the film remains devoted to an attempt to encapsulate everything that its title suggests, with enough space left over to supplement other narrative aspects. The feature contains inklings of a neo-noir style through its often convoluted plot, disputable femme fatale and dark(ish) tones of criminality. None of these stylistic devices feel forced so the balance between style and entertainment is in no way disproportionate and instead complement one another fluently.

From my slight scrutiny of Trance my opinion may appear to be more negative than my actually quite positive stance. I just, quite simply, wanted Trance to be so much better, as it had the potential to be a magnificent thriller, but the execution at certain moments digress from the greatness that other parts of Trance exhibit. Ultimately, whilst Trance demonstrates an enormous amount of ingenuity, Boyle’s latest venture unfortunately gets caught up in it’s own web of romantic deceit, which is an unwelcome revelation and the eventual undoing of the film.

Bharat Samra


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