Monday, May 27, 2013

Film Review: Danny Boyle's Trance

Trance, Danny Boyle's tenth film as director, is one of those movies where you are never quite sure who to trust and who not to trust, even after the end credits roll.  To some, judging from initial reaction to the film, this style of storytelling can be quite annoying, but to this critic, it is almost like that proverbial manna from the proverbial heavens.  Of course, judging from reactions to all of Boyle's oeuvre, the director is one of those people who can be quite annoying to many as well.  On this, I am apt to at least partially agree - god, the overzealous award-baiting of the ultimately mediocre Slumdog Millionaire is enough to rile any critical feathers - but when Boyle is on, he is fucking on - and with Trance, he is fucking on as all hell.

With a marketing campaign that relies heavily on those who liked Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, and 28 Days Later (the only three of Boyle's films mentioned in the trailer), while ignoring the director's big Oscar winning film, the aforementioned over-praised mainstreamy Slumdog, Trance is the kind of film that flies under the radar, only to be thought of as a sort of cult classic a decade or two down the line.  Okay, maybe it won't get the cult status that something like 28 Days or Trainspotting have gotten (Trance, though quite enjoyable, is still not on the level of those films), but the movie does have that kind of vibe.  Unsure of who is doing what to whom, and who is playing whom, Boyle's tale of art thieves, the amnesiac man who holds the secret of where the stolen art is, and the psychotherapist/hypnotist who can bring it all out in bloody, gory, and surprising time, is a thoroughly intriguing film, from innocent start to batshitcrazy finale.

Helping to make this film as intriguing as it happens to be (Boyle's auteurist's touch does do visual wonders though) is the cast.  Led by James McAvoy as our intrepid amnesiac antagonist, Rosario Dawson as the hypnotist with a secret, and French bad boy Vincent Cassel as the art thief with the most charmingly dangerous attitude, the film, and in turn, it's characters, play fast and loud with the rules of narrative storytelling, and even though it is nothing ground-breaking and/or Earth-shattering, it is easily one of the most intriguing, one of the most multi-leveled films of this year.  And then, when we get to the end - that aforementioned batshitcrazy finale - and we find out who is who and what is what, and who did what to whom - and granted, Trance may not be as convoluted as say, The Big Sleep, or something akin to that - those of us who are not annoyed by such cinematic antics, are left with a feeling of giddy inclusion with the characters we have just come to love and hate and love and hate all over again.  It really is a fun and twisty ride.

No comments: