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Needs more than Cannibalism
Its easy to understand the pull of the full. You want to watch a film about a girl who becomes a cannibal.. the film is very well crafted and full of interesting images. The acting is very good and the camera work solid. But somewhere during the film you begin to question the purpose of this film- it is neither full-blown horror nor is it a deep character study of a girl who is grappling with the cannibal inside her. I say give me Hannibal Lector anytime!
27 Down (1974)
27 Down is as beautiful, truthful and evocative
27 Down is as beautiful, truthful and evocative as the trains of the Indian railways which serve as its almost constant backdrop. And it induces the same yearning, for that forgotten taste of tea in a earthen cup, a little stale, a little metallic, a little too sweet and just a little bit dusty. But the reasons why 27 Down, a debut film by Awtar Krishna Kaul, a young man of 28 , made 44 years ago has survived as a classic of Indian cinema, lie beyond the overwhelming nostalgia of trains.
Sanjay (M. K. Raina) was born on a train. For his birthplace, he mentions two places, much to the exasperation of the interviewer who is about to give him a job in the railways after Sanjays father has pulled a few strings. Sanjay is slightly adamant about it, the train was at an unknowable point in the vast labyrinth of railway tracks that span the country. This is his very minor rebellion against his father, who was a train driver and now wants his son to have a secure but dull job in the railways. He has very practical reasons for pushing his son in that direction, including perks like free coal that railway employees get to fire their mud ovens with at home.
The young director about whom very little information is available online, must be reflecting on his career path in some way through this film, being an art film director in the late 60s must have been a far more radical career choice than it is today. Even now if one speaks to the teachers in two of India's leading state run film schools you hear of how a large section of students have revolted at home and sought a kind of refuge at the film school in the promise of a career as an artist.
In an early scene in the film we see him as a child admiring a nude sculpture of Aphrodite and then we see him in a reputed art school in Bombay, a young man, away from his family. His father writes letters to him, offering him practical advice which we see Sanjay not heed, his mother has passed away and his father makes a big deal of acting protective. Somehow the director never foregrounds the artist in Sanjay, he is perhaps wary of making the film autobiographical ( Google does not know much about Avatar Kaul yet, but I shall find out one day and post an addendum to this review). When his father asks him to join the railways, Sanjay offers only half hearted resistance. He refers to his art education as " I want to complete my studies" to which his father says " You can do that along with your job too!". Sanjay is afraid to speak more clearly about his education, varnishing it as "studies". It is this strange tone of being unsure that defines the overall tone of the film for me.
This attitude of meek capitulation is most telling in his marriage to a village girl of his fathers choice. Sanjay is having a serious affair with a girl, Shalini (a de-glamourised Rakhee), who he has met on a train. Orphaned early, Shalini now works in Bombay as a clerk to support her grandfather and siblings who live in another city. Now think of Satyajit Rays Mahanagar made in 1962 which portrays a housewife working to support her family and the shame that her husband experiences. Shalini is doing the same but Avatar Krishna Kaul is gently putting our middle class morality in the dock, in a style that is equidistant from Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwick Ghakat and the formalist Mani Kaul.
27 Down is a singular voice in Indian cinema, not fully formed, hesitant to make its point but marshalling the power of the cinematic image to its advantage with a lot of passion, restraint and wonder. Along with his cameraman AK Bir, who was all of 22 years old and heavily influenced by Pontecorvo's Battle of Algiers, they hold the hidden camera on crowded railway platforms and on moving trains and capture high contrast black and white images that evoke the romance of railways and the drudgery of travelling in a third class compartment, all at once.
There are also hints of Jiri Manzels 1968 masterpiece Closely Watched Trains, and the moment I finished watching 27 Down, I told myself "This is our Closely Watched Trains". In a way 27 Down too is a film about the confusion of youth in a socio economic climate in limbo, and the loss of innocence when confronted with the forces of world. We see Sanjay wilt under pressure from his father, lying in a stupor on sleeper trains. When he senses that the train is passing over a bridge we hear him philosophise incoherently. The numerous bridges connect nothingness with nothingness and the train for him is running in a maddening never-ending loop. 27 Down refers to the train route "Bombay to Varanasi", the holiest city for Hindus. Even though Sanjay takes that train he returns from Varanasi in spiritual despair .
This is a remarkably open film, a moving feast of images and moods, which will draw in viewers in its embrace. This was the only film that Awtar Krishna Kaul made and it adds up to much more than what many achieved in a lifetime.
Satyagraha, Arvind Kejriwal and the Delhi elections.
Satyagraha, Arvind Kejriwal and the Delhi elections.
Anna Hazare haazir hoon!OK, Anna is in the US on a lecture tour, and we will have to make do with Amitabh Bachchan playing him in Prakash Jha's new film Satyagraha. How Anna lost his mojo is one of the great mysteries of Indian politics but Satyagraha gives him a respectable exit. There is nothing wrong with dramatizing real life events and politics make for especially riveting cinema but maybe Prakash Jha thinks we don't watch the news. He starts the film with the spiraling cost of electricity and a call not to pay electricity bills which is exactly how Arvind Kejriwal launched his political party, the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP).He brings in a thinly veiled reference to the BJP which poses a moral dilemma to Ajay Devgan( Arvind Kejriwals proxy) since they cannot join hands with communal forces. When making Aarakhshan about job reservations, Mr Jha forgot to show the self immolation of Mr Rajiv Goswami, of anti Mandal commission fame, he makes amends by making a youth set himself on fire.When he wants to inject violence into a non violent movement he borrows from Attenborough's depiction of the Chauri Chura incident in Gandhi, when a few policemen we killed by an angry mob. The film also puts forth Arvind Kejriwals very solid rationale that politicians are engaging in a match fixing and don't expose each other because they are looting the country in partnership providing a compelling raison de entre for the AAP. Arvind Kejriwal needs to revive the Anna wave in the Delhi elections in November, and convince voters that both the BJP and Congress are equally corrupt.Now let us imagine for a moment that Mr Kejriwal is the producer of this film.He puts his entire kitty of election funds, say 25 crores into making this film.He quadruples the money in 1 year and has a film which is the best possible campaign video for him just 2 months before the polls.That would have been brilliant! But he is still a winner.Here is how: It will be seen all across India and especially by the voters in Delhi where Mr Kejriwal has a real chance at becoming the kingmaker.As India heads into its most divisive and interesting general elections in a long time, Satyagraha and Mr Kejriwal add a healthy dose of self righteousness into the mix which consists of pathetic dynastic politics and brazen corruption on one side and communal polarization on the other.Its difficult to predict a winner in that contest, but Satyagraha will conquer the box office and garner some votes for the AAP in the short run.I would have really loved this film, had the corrupt chief minister been a sweet, calm and corrupt old lady like Shiela Aunty. When this film is seen in single screen theaters by people who have been drawn in by the star appeal of Mr Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor it will serve as a powerful reminder of what happened two years ago since the memory of those events have already faded.The next general elections is an opportunity for the common man to speak with his vote.During the Anna movement he spoke with his voice on social media, but Facebook "likes" don't count when the votes are being counted.Satyagraha is an interesting experiment and surely a part of the political picture in the run up to the elections. Its an utterly tasteless piece of cinema but hopefully an eye opener for the common voter who is able to take out 3 hours from the grind of his life to watch a mindless song and dance film every weekend but spends election day catching up on his sleep.This is a landmark film in the sense that we are watching the birth of the political campaign film in India. So thats the political lowdown.And how does it stack up as a piece of entertainment, had it really been completely fictional etc. etc. as the disclaimers at the beginnings of films go? The direction is Satyagraha is non-existent. The big ticket actors strut the stage and mouth their lines, the sleepy cameraman rolls the camera with the scantest regard for the aesthetics, composition and lighting of the shot, the background score is completely uninspiring, the costumes jarring and the script full of clichés.Yes there are some good one liners in there but not enough to salvage the script.Any self respecting Hindi commercial film needs eye candy so Satyagraha starts with an item number and foregrounds Kareena frequently.He even makes Devgan shut her up during an argument with a smooch.That was a LOL moment for sure. If the idea is to entertain enlightened and aware audiences the film fails. Mr Prakash Jha who once made wonderful films like Damul before he went to Bollywood and made equally entertaining and solid social thrillers like Gangajal and Apaharan, has of late tried to occupy the niche of socially relevant cinema.His Aarakshan and Rajneeti tried to do that but were based on inherently weak scripts but were still much superior to Satyagraha.This is a downward spiral for Mr Jha.Hope he snaps out of it and goes back to his roots.
Ilo Ilo (2013)
A sensitive, closely observed and well crafted film!
Ilo Ilo tells a deceptively simple story with a lot of care and heart.The film is roughly set in the middle of the Asian financial crisis which also affected this small island nation.It tells of a friendship which grows between a young and rebellious boy who has just lost his beloved grandfather and his maid who arrives from Philippines to help his pregnant mother with her hectic schedule. The boys father loses his job and his mother juggles the tantrums of the brat and the increasing demands of her job which she needs to retain at all cost.
Ilo Ilo demonstrates that the role of a nanny and domestic servant is very special.The tightrope that both employer and employee walk in balancing "you are a paid servant" and " you are a part of the family" can be so tight and the casualties so subtle that we don't notice the injuries until much later.In a dramatic scene, the school bully teases Jialer that his maid does not actually love him, she is just doing a job for which she is paid.This infuriates Jailer who lunges at the bully in a fit of rage. The director says the film was based on his personal experiences and how he felt that its very cruel for parents to allow maids to become like surrogate mothers and suddenly sack the maid for some reason.This can be a huge emotional trauma for the child who is unable to appreciate the reasons.While the film does not indict the system of foreign domestic helpers, it frames its argument for considering the human cost involved in a gentle way.
The character of Teresa reminds us that those of us who were raised by nannies owe so much to them, and we often never acknowledge the debt fully.I completely admired the performance by Yan Yan Yeo who played Jailan's mother as the slightly humorless but ultimately kind woman.She navigates the role with the responsibility that the character must have felt, with her world crumbling around her in trying circumstances. Her performance is pitch perfect and I was amazed to know that her character was not conceived as being pregnant but after she was cast she became pregnant.She managed to convince the director to rewrite the role.Angela Bayani as the diminutive maid Teresa also delivers a stellar performance in a role that requires her to be vulnerable, strong, emotional, stoic and pragmatic at different points.Her chemistry with Jialer played by a very natural Koh Jia Ler is excellent and completely believable.
The beauty of this film emerges when we juxtapose its sombre sepia images with the glitz and glamour of present day Singapore.Needless to say the intimate and de-glamorized cinematography by French lensman Benoit Soler plays a big role in creating this magic.The humour is one of the strengths of the film and although I may not have understood all the jokes about growing up in Singapore, going by the reaction of the audience Mr Chen has been successful in his efforts.Yes I did go in with very high expectations and the film did not meet all of them but that should not take anything away from this sweet and intimate film.The quality of the craft is impeccable and there are no rough edges in the film which is remarkable for a debutant director.
I recently saw another period Singapore film That Girl in Pinafore, which although not as elegant as Ilo Ilo tells an equally touching and boisterous tale of a group of teens being typical teens against the backdrop in xinyao music.These are the only two Singaporean films I have seen so far, but we foreigners who live in Singapore need to discover Singaporean cinema, which offers a window into its unique culture.
Anthony Chen is the new poster boy of the fledgling film industry of Singapore after winning the Camera d'or at Cannes this year.This is his first full length feature after making eight highly acclaimed short films. Ilo Ilo is certainly a glittering debut film and hopefully the first in a long and interesting career.It may be Singapore's first Cannes winner but there must have been better films which have not garnered this kind of limelight.One hopes that Ilo Ilo is a watershed moment in Singapore cinema.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Run Run Run!
As I lifted my aching bums from the seat after watching this film the uppermost thought in my mind was a silent thank you to the guardian angels of cinema.After all if this is how we approach biopics I am so happy that Gandhi was made by a foreigner 30 years ago.If Bollywood had a shot at it, they would have made the Mahatma do garba and dandiya with Kasturba and his brave experiments with celibacy would have turned to sleaze.There would have been Zulu dancers during his South Africa phase, soulful ghazals when he visits Amritsar in the aftermath of Jalianwala Baag massacre and sufi songs when Hindu Muslim riots break out.There would also have been some Englishman raping a Indian girl and a sexy mujra in the court of a debauched Maharaja.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag tries to tell the story of India's greatest athlete in the only language that Bollywood understands the musical.Indeed a sporty musical can be done very well as Lagaan demonstrated but this film simply does not have the material to carry off a handful of songs.It all begins at the Rome Olympics in 1960 where Milkha Singh comes fourth in a photo-finish despite being the world record holder and a favorite to win the race.The reason for his poor showing is a backward glance which according to the film is the massacre of his family during the partition coming back to haunt him.Nothing is further from the truth. Milkha Singh lost because he made a strategic blunder in running too fast during the first 250 meters and tried to slow down which cost him the race.That and his being in lane 5 which creates a blind spot and a disadvantage for a sprinter.So much for a biopic!
The film ends with a cricket match final.Now how can that be since this film is about athletics? I am lying of course, the director wisely reduces his race in Pakistan to a India Pakistan war as it happens in every Indo-Pak cricket match and ends the film on a jingoistic note! And yes we take a full three hours to reach this convoluted climax.
The story of Milkha Singh is a great story, his lost childhood, his parents murder during the partition, his rise to running glory, his infamous loss at the Rome Olympics which led to him hitting the bottle, his win in Pakistan and him turning down the Arjuna Award.But Mr Mehra finds it more important to dwell on his romance while growing up and his one night stand with a hot Australian girl during the Melbourne Olympics.A chiseled Farhan doing push ups at the beach with a buxum bikini clad blond lying on his back should be paisa wasool!
To the films credit the races are filmed with great finesse, the training sequences are epic, Farhan Akthar has a body to die for or to kill for and some of the incidents of his early life are very engrossing. Undoubtedly Farhan as Milkha is a casting coup and the effort he puts into becoming Milkha Singh translates into a superlative performance.The big budget is up on the screen, the attention to period detail is exquisite and Binod Pradhan's camera-work top notch. Pawan Malhotra is downright brilliant as his coach.There is this shot when Milkha Singh get taken over by the coach of the national team and Pawan Malhotra looks at him with an expression that is a mixture of pride and sadness, he is loosing his most talented protégée and is happy for him.That shot alone redeems this film.
Bhaag Milkha Bhag is a stellar example of a wasted opportunity, this could have been a good film if 70 minutes had been chopped and it could have been a great film if it had focused on Milkha Singh the man and athlete and not on Farhan Akhtar the alpha male with the body of a Greek God.Even after three hours of watching this film we are none the wiser about the profession of running or what it must have been like to be Milkha Singh in the first decade of India's independence or what the legacy of this great athlete is.
Bhaag Audience Bhaag!
A brave attempt but ultimately bloated and overwrought!
Once upon a time, eons back Doordarshan used to show 30 minute short stories and one of them was about an eccentric painter who wanted to paint a masterpiece.This he does on a stormy night when a severely ill young girl wagers her life on the last leaf on a plant outside her bedroom window not getting blown away.The painter paints a leaf which keeps her alive through the crucial night and perishes in the process.His masterpiece has saved a life.This was based on O'Henrys' short story "The Last Leaf".But that 30 minute treatment was a better idea than a full length Bollywood film.Consequently Lootera feels bloated and overwrought.
Vinay( Ranveer Singh) is a young handsome archaeologist who arrives at the home of the Zamindar( Barun Chanda) of Manikpur, West Bengal who dotes on his daughter Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha).He wants to dig around the the old family temple in search of a lost civilization.They fall in love but Vinay hides a secret which means their romance will be severely tested.If you have read the original short story you may know how it ends but the whole set up and the middle act is the handiwork of the writers.
Read full review on mostlycinema.com
The Lone Ranger (2013)
A big boring film!
Johnny Depp directed a film once.It was called The Brave and co-starred Marlon Brando along with Depp who played an impoverished American Indian, who agrees to make a snuff movie in exchange for money which will help his family.The film was never theatrically released but showed Mr. Depps commitment and love for the native American.He also claims some Cherokee roots on his great-grandmother side and its not difficult to imagine him gleefully take up the offer to play Tonto for his long-term Pirates franchise collaborator Gore Verbinksi. What Mr Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer were thinking is more intriguing though. As they plod along with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise they are in search of a new one for Disney.The Masked Man is the property they dug up, one that few cares about, which of course they planned to change.
Since they have made big films which have mountains of money they could get the green light and 250 million USD for this project.What we have is a full-fledged assault of special effects and elaborate set pieces that are only faintly amusing and that too fleetingly.I admit to being a Depp fan, he has built up a solid repertoire of off beat and sometimes downright quirky roles and his work with Tim Burton has always been a refreshing ride of wild creativity.Speaking of creativity this very director was positively brilliant in his last outing with Rango which was a near perfect animated film.
Here Armie Hammer plays John Reid, a very idealistic county prosecutor who in the outlandish but breathtaking opening sequence on a train, gets caught up in a jailbreak by gunslinger Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) and rogue Comanche Indian Tonto (Johnny Depp) while returning from the city. Tonto and Reid team up to hunt down Butch and his gang through the desert with Tonto having his own agenda of avenging the wrongs done to his tribe.
The film uses a 1933 carnival exhibition in San Francisco as its framing device, where a young Lone Ranger fan encounters an ancient, nearly 100-year-old Tonto, now reduced to a sideshow freak.As Tonto recounts his tale to the boy, the film cuts back to his narration every 30 minutes or so, which does not help its comic action adventure tone or pacing at all.That Tonto is quite an eccentric should be a good thing and excuse for some really charming comedy but his antics with the dead bird on his head only make this movie more preposterous.At times, The Lone Ranger wants to be a tongue in cheek spoof on of the old TV series but muddies the waters with very macabre scenes (testing the limits of its PG13 rating) where Butch carves out and eats the heart of a victim or when Indians are massacred by U.S. soldiers brutally with a machine gun.
Arnie Hammer has the right look and charisma to play The Lone Ranger but by the time he makes up his mind to become the title character our interest in the film has been long dead .When he arrives at the "Hi -yo Silver" moment near the end of the film its a bit too late.Mr Depps performance as a very sober and mellow version of captain Jack Sparrow with an oversized burnt bird for headgear, which he keeps trying to feed seeds he digs up, is a bundle of contradictions.Surely the incoherence of his character owes more to the screenplay than to his acting skills.
Sitting through this movie you can quietly contemplate all the existential questions that may be haunting you or you can down a few thousand calories worth of popcorn and soda but all that glucose will not set your pulse racing.This film proves how big paychecks are creating films that force very talented people to make films like this which reduce movie watching to a chore.Some movie messes are tasty like chop suey but this one is concocted from very expensive but stale ingredients.I am betting grossing 500 million USD which this film needs to just break even will be a very uphill task.
Published on mostlycinema.com
White House Down (2013)
Its so bad that its good!!
Now Barrack Obama and family can watch the double bill in their personal movie theatre: Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, back to back.Two films within a span of 2 months about a deadly attack on the White House is too much of a coincidence and it is cause for delicious speculation what the Obamas would make of it. Olympus adopted a serious tone with the North Koreans as the bad guys while this film cheekily reduces it to a action comedy throwing in big budget special effects.
Roland Emmerich makes big budget disaster films, if you want to produce a film where an Armageddon is averted by a heroic American then this German is the go-to guy.This time his tone is very tongue in cheek, he gives us a film that refuses to take itself seriously and is downright campy is parts.His bad guys are hopeless parodies of bad guys and his good guys are goofy and ernest.There is not an ounce of credibility in the plot and the dialogues are downright cheesy.But this film is delicious in a "Its so bad that its good" way.
Read Full Review on mostlycinema.com
Flawed but engaging film!
Seeta aur Geeta meets Ram aur Shyam meets Don with shades of Karan Arjun for the final garnish, directed of course by that giant of a movie director who understood the need for escape in a cinema hall so well- Manmohan Desai, starring Amitabh Bachchan in a delicious double role! Well this is not quite that film but its title is very intriguing, Aurangzeb is the ultimate symbol we have of unbridled ambition and impatience getting the better of familial love.
Yashwardhan(Jackie Shroff) is the undisputed king of the underworld in the NCR and his legal front serves as the ruthless machinery for all real estate activity that happens there.His ambitious business development head is Nina(Amrita Singh) who has planted Ritu(Sasha Agah) in the life of Yashwardhan's loutish son Ajay's (Arjun Kapoor) life to ensure that he keeps snorting cocaine and getting into fights and stays away from the family business.Watching with frustration is DCP Ravikant (Rishi Kapoor) who wants a lions share of the dealings he facilitates along with his son Dev and nephew Arya(Prithwiraj Sukumaran). Yashwardhan is getting old and Ravi is getting impatient. Ravi gets the perfect opportunity when it emerges that his elder brother (Arya's father), who was expelled from the police force for killing Yashwardhan's wife and twin son Rakesh(identical to Ajay), actually hid them away as a second family.When he dies Ravi enlists Arya's help to swap Ajay with Rakesh and infiltrate Yashwardhan's operation. This premise is set up very quickly by the director and the rest of the film is a soap opera of intrigue, double crosses, murky land deals, vampish molls and implausible change of hearts. The material is vast, the twists and turns too many and the cinematic approach too timid and unimaginative.
That the film still hold up is due to the fact that there are far too many balls up in the air and the screen presence of some of the actors keep us interested in how the story will play out. There is no real feel for the language and nuances of the NCR, which has a culture all its own,Gurgaon is a phenomenon that this film fails to decode.The locations are uninspired, yes the ugly concrete jungle is on display but where is the world that it has encroached? The wisest choice the director makes is to rein in the length to a relatively crisp 140 minutes.
Rishi Kapoor as the nerve centre of the film gives a sincere performance as a very insincere man but is unable to make the leap from his sweater wearing, guitar strumming slightly potbellied heartthrob image to the ultimate baddie.Jackie Shroff brings screen presence but not much else to the film, Amrita Singh comes out of retirement to play a hammy stock character with too much concealer on her face. Sasha Agah as the archetypical gangsters moll, makes you cringe with her amateurish histrionics, the best moment comes as she does a backstroke in a tiny black bikini and thats saying a lot.Which brings us to Amitabh Bachchan, well Arjun Kapoor, you know what I mean.He has an arresting face but acting wise he is exactly where we left him in Isaqzaade. There are times when he is pitch perfect as the Mafiosi punk but as soon as the moment passes he is regresses into a gawky hunk unsure of his next move.
How I wish Anurag Kashyap or Vishal Bhardwaj or Tigmanshu Dhulia had helmed this film, it shows us in no uncertain terms why they are our best Bollywood directors.Even Ram Gopal Verma created magic with similar material in Satya and Sarkar. Auragzeb has its moments and overall momentum to be a competent entertainer. A tighter script, saucier dialogues, better performances and more feel for the material might have transformed this into a tour de force.
Published on mostlycinema.com
Trance is deliciously discombobulating!
Rembrandt's Sea of Galilee, Caravaggio's Nativity, Vermeer's The Concert,Modigliani's Woman with a Fan.What do these famous paintings have in common? They were all stolen and are out of sight but their beauty is still with us and fans the fire in art thieves to commit the kind of darings robberies that last happened in Rotterdam's Kunsthal art galley, a stones throw from where I once lived.In Trance, Danny Boyle takes us into a room full of these stolen masterpieces but that room only exists in a characters head. The stolen painting in question here is Francisco de Goya's Witches in the Air which is stolen from a crowded auction room in London immediately after it is sold for more than 25 million pounds.
The film opens with the heist sequence, narrated by junior auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) who was present in the room when it happened.We see David (Vincent Cassel) the classic French gangster leading his men and apparently succeeding. But what he has stolen is an empty frame, the painting has been cut out.We see Simon being tortured by David and it emerges that he was an accomplice, this being another inside job.But its not that simple, Simon suffers from a genuine case of amnesia and they hit upon the idea of using a hypnotherapist to ferret out his submerged memories.The hypnotherapist is Victoria (Rosario Dawson), an unlikely femme fatale but once she takes control of Simons brain we are all under her spell.What follows is a story of recovering not just the painting but memories in Simons brain.
All thrillers use what is called the McGuffin which is a say a jumbo diamond or some such contrivance which has no other use except for keeping the audiences interest alive.Danny Boyle's use of a famous painting by Goya somehow elevates the McGuffin to something that we care about.This of course brings to mind Abbas Kiarostami's film Certified Copy which posed the tantalizing question, in a rather oblique way, that if the Mona Lisa were destroyed along with all its images and only a single reproduction survived, will be value it as much? But thats another discussion, possibly another film.
Danny Boyle knows how to shoot a film, this one was shot in a break between preparations for the summer Olympic games opening and closing ceremonies which he orchestrated with great success.In Slumdog Millionaire he created a film which while deeply polarizing Indian audiences won hearts worldwide and a bagful of Oscars, while in 127 Hours he took us inside the mind of a man trapped in a cave and forced to make impossible choices. His ability to tell a story in a stylized and completely engrossing manner makes him one of the most original directors around.Here he plays mind games with a very steady hand, he mixes psychedelic images with a lot of reflections to build a chimera.
The editing by Jon Harris is superb, in just 101 he gives us a story packed with many masterful sequences are partly constructed using montage of unrelated images like helicopter shots of loopy flyovers buzzing with cars .The color palette Boyle chooses is a mix of saturated colors, muted tones and dark shadows.This film uses the ubiquitous and misused technique of Digital Intervention(DI), to its immense advantage.Every frame is stunning to look at and is set to a thumping soundtrack that builds suspense and indeed puts us into a kind of trance.
While Vincent Cassel has immense screen presence, his role makes him more of a spectator to what James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson are upto. Mr MacAvoy as the amnesia struck victim keeps us fooled throughout.But this is a Rosario Dawson show all the way.The film stands on the shoulders of her brave and mysterious performance, she is in complete control throughout.Ms Dawson is an actress who has not got the opportunities she deserves, here she capitalizes on the script and delivers a mind bending performance.The fleeting piece of graphic nudity from her in Trance is not gratuitous, far from it.It is this single audacious element alone that makes the film worth watching and the way it has been linked to the stolen paining is clever and satisfying.
Trance is deliciously discombobulating, we suspect that the characters are not what they seem but thats not the point at all.The plot may be slightly far fetched but within the boundaries of faint plausibility it keeps us engaged.This is not a film like Inception which demanded, a little arrogantly, multiple viewings to understand. Trance deserves a second viewing just to relish its images and immaculate craft, not to decode it further. Hollywood makes far too many thrillers which are far too mediocre without a trace of originality or worse they squander an original premise hammering it into a humdrum product.Here both the idea and treatment are immensely enjoyable.