Review: TRANCE

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Acclaimed director Danny Boyle, the filmmaker who brought audiences 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire, brings a film to theaters which feels a bit closer to his earlier work (Trainspotting, Shallow Grave), though not as satisfying. Trance is a sometimes mesmerizing head-scratcher of a mystery thriller that will have often have viewers on the edge of their seats, but does have its slower more monotonous scenes as well.

Written by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge, Trance is another recent film, whose story which could have been told by the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. Art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) gets himself mixed up with criminals who attempt to steal a valuable painting which soon disappears.  With his life threatened by the thieves led by Franck (Vincent Cassel), Simon seeks the help of hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson). Elizabeth and Simon undergo several sessions to discover the location of the missing painting.  In the process of locating the missing piece, a very ugly truth is revealed.

Though Trance often is a fascinating and engrossing film, once all has been revealed, several questions arise often involving the long drawn out process it takes to get to the revelation.  Is it truly necessary and essential to the story?  No. it isn’t particularly that important, but it does build suspense and tension. It does intrigue and engross; however, if one really thinks about it. So much time is wasted for the film to get the point. It is an entertaining, sexy, sometimes thrilling ride, but when the audience finally gets there, it’s not totally satisfying.  In fact in all the exposition, reflection and reevaluation of previous scenes, the conclusion does feel somewhat anti-climactic.

Despite the story and writing issues, Boyle does a fantastic job creating some visually amazing scenes with cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, editing by Jon Harris and an outstanding effects crew. The score by Rick Smith is also highly worthy of mentioning as is the performance of the cast.  As far as film productions go, this may be Boyle’s loveliest looking one. If only the writing had been better, then perhaps this film could have been the modern Hitchcock thriller that it aspires to be.

In fact if this film had been made by Alfred Hitchcock, I am absolutely certain that he would have had people rewriting and reworking the script, particularly the weak parts toward the end.  This film definitely lacks the solid writing that another Hitchcock film wannabe, Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, has.  In all of its flash and balls, I expected a more breathtaking and satisfying ending.

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