Trance (2013)

Franck (Vincent Cassel) leader of the criminal gang wonders why everything has suddenly gone black.

Trance is an interesting movie and is often more cinematic drug than film. It can also be at times an indecipherable mess, often resembling more a fast-cut music video where violence, action and reality-switches come thick and fast.

Simon (James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer who needs to locate a £27 million painting (that’s 45 million US dollars) which he hid during a robbery at the auction house. He received a hard blow to the head during the robbery and he can’t remember where he put it. The criminal gang want the painting and are threatening him with extreme violence. A hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) is brought in to help him recover his lost memory. The trouble is – if he locates the painting he will no longer be of any use to the gang, and he is sure they will kill him. Also, why is he becoming obsessed with the beautiful hypnotherapist? And why does she seem strangely familiar to him?

It’s an interesting set up and makes for an intriguing film, however it never really fulfils it’s intelligent initial promise. Eventually proving more visceral and exciting than thought provoking. Trance music (appropriately) is pumped into your brain as well as violence, and the story is pumped inside along with it.

You do of course expect a twist but the director keeps you guessing as to exactly what that twist might be. Since Simon is frequently under hypnosis, you never know for sure if what is happening is really happening or if he is in a trance. Its a trick that’s been done before many times before but the way it’s done here does seem fresh and new.

I would have liked to have seen this on release. It’s perfect cinema-fodder and would have made for a semi-dumb but enjoyable hour and half of escapist viewing. It has satisfying pay offs, good acting (James McAvoy is surprising good here, switching between weak and ineffectual and strong and confident as the role demands), a fast story with multiple layers which you may not fully be able to process at the time but which you can think about later. On the negative side it’s frequently ridiculous with the concluding section straying a little too far into the unbelievable. Fast, thrilling, unbelievable but certainly not boring.  6/10

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