Trance – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

TranceTrance – 4.5/5 – This deep in the year, we begin to get the blockbusters.  It is the summer season, so you get the over-the-top action, epic movies.  Littered in between these spectacles is the low-budget, indie style flicks.  These films are usually the forgettable films, because no one knows about them, sees them, or realizes they exist.  Trance is one of those films, that falls in this category.  This is a film that is stellar, intriguing, mind blowing, but is just an all around excellent trip into storytelling and dynamics of characters, situations and circumstance.

Premise: A fine art auctioneer, mixed up with a gang, joins forces with a hypnotherapist to recover his memory of a lost painting.  As boundaries between desire, reality and hypnotic suggestion occur, what the man believes begins to blur, and truths began to unfold that he may not want to remember.

In the main three roles, you have James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson.  As the auctioneer Simon, McAvoy gives an individual, who seems to be lost in the dark world of the gangs, but has a deeper problem related to a hidden past.  In this role, you see him provide a person with depths and desires that reach beyond what is on the surface.  Through him, you witness someone that is more confused by his amnesia, wanting to know more than what is given to us on screen.  As lines blur between his mental state and truths, you see how emotions ring deep, and all the memories he has forgotten may need to stay forgotten.  Through his delivery and interactions with the other two, you see the gravity of the state of affairs, giving us a marvel of intrigue to him and the unraveling situation.  As the hypnotherapist Elizabeth, Dawson gives us her best role yet.  She provides an intriguing ‘third party’ to this situation, as she finds that Simon is in trouble, but makes a pack with the gang for helping them.  This dynamic helps brings a layering of both greed and desire, giving you a spectrum that shows a pro and con of the human psyche.  Her words are intricate but subtle, and her relationship with both the Gang leader Frank (Vincent Cassel) and Simon helps build the story, as well as her character.  As much as McAvoy does a good job in bringing believable moments in his interaction, Dawson does one job better, and makes us realize her position is what is controlling the situation.  Her character is more pivotal than anyone else in the movie.  As mentioned, Vincent Cassel plays the gang leader Frank.  He isn’t as deep as the other two, but you see his clear motives with getting the painting in his hands.  The intriguing part of his character is how he falls for Elizabeth, making him do her bidding, even when it seems he is in control.  His character is a lot of shades of both the typical ‘British’ gangster and a ‘puppet’ archetype, but his interaction helps create a strong character that makes sense for the film.  Outside of the main three, nothing is exceptional to the supporting cast.  Since the film focused on these three, the supporting roles were more of story positioning, helping move it along as all the movie unfolds.

In the direction, it is a very tricky to describe.  At first in the setup, it starts out as a heist film.  In the beginning, the gang sets up to steal a painting, and along the way, Simon gets into an accident, and forgets where he put the painting for the gang to retrieve.  In this, you see the beginnings of a good, but common film mixed with heist and gang elements.  As the movie moves from this prologue, the gang needs to dig deep into Simon’s mind and find out the truth of where he put the painting.  Here, we start to see that the setup is as much as a blind as the confused characters, as there is more purpose behind the painting for Simon’s character, because he hid it from the gang.  This is when Frank forces him to go to a hypnotherapist, and chooses Elizabeth.  Here, we start to see how the unraveling of Simon’s mind turns a traditional heist film into a deeper, thought provoking character film.  Here, we witness the plague of circumstance, choices and the inevitable flaw of the human mind.  As you delve deeper into Simon’s memories, you see there is something haunting him in his past, but is carefully peeled back by Elizabeth.  Here, you feel she is placing certain objects to help fill in the blanks, but at the same time you see how she hides her motives behind Frank’s motives.  This is when you witness all three main characters (Elizabeth, Frank and Simon) began to position their own purpose, created in a love triangle.  This triangle is somewhat cliché in thrillers, but it helps create a subtle complexion of desire versus will, as you see that all sides are being played like chess pieces.  This part of the film is helped out with some darkly mirage of music and lighting, showing that the mind tricks are just a blur between what is really there, and what is not.  This gives you a stark contrast on which side really has control, and what the real purpose of the painting is.  This helps creates a mystery that, starts to unravel, and everything from the beginning is all just a setup for the mind blowing climax.  In this climax, you witness a dark but witty conclusion, which will make you understand all the trippy mental elements, as well as the subtle use of word play in the script.

The visuals are astonishing at times, but mostly, are kept in check by the realism of the script.  The basic complexion of a European city helps create the allure of the story, but doesn’t take away from the unraveling of Simon’s mind.  Here, when we dig deep into his mind, as mention, it is kept in checked by the use of subtle lighting and realistic imagery.  This helps create the atmosphere that we can feel the story but at the same time realize it’s a dream.  The score helps create the illusion of trippy and mental situations, as it brings a ‘surrounding’ feel.  The music encapsulates you as much as the mind bending sequences.

Overall, Trance is a deep, thought provoking film hiding behind the premise of a heist scenario.  This helps hide the predictable elements that could have happen, and helps add provoking tides as layers are revealed.  This is what you call an under the radar film, that is probably the best one I’ve seen so far this year.  I’d recommend this film to anyone a fan of thrillers, and people that enjoy a mind bending time.

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