When Danny Boyle's not orchestrating Olympic Ceremonies, he's making moving picture thingies called "films". Trance is his latest Apple iPad commercial
I mean film, starring that bloke off of Shameless, a French Chris Martin and that naked actress from Alexander. In all seriousness, the film stars pretty boy James McAvoy as Simon, a fine-art auctioneer. Due to gambling debts, he becomes involved with bully and Mob leader Franck, played wonderfully by Vincent Cassel. The two pair up to steal an outrageously priced painting from within Simon's own gallery. After a failed endeavour at double-crossing, he develops amnesia after a meaty blow to the head from Franck's subtle gun choice of a shotgun. In order to regain the lost memory of the painting's location, the gang sends Simon to sexy yet audacious hypnotist Elizabeth (played nude by Rosario Whatshert*ts).
The opening sequence begins with a narration from McAvoy, a stylistic choice that is subsequently abandoned and doesn't return to resolve the film after eloquently opening it. This first sequence is reminiscent of a discarded episode of BBC's dangerously underrated Hustle: the heist-gone-wrong plot along with the exterior backdrop of London makes it difficult to draw comparisons. However, the film can't seem to make its mind up about what genre it is. It's heist, it's action, and then it's an unconvincing love triangle between the three main characters.
But towards the end of the film, the audience is treated to the most ridiculous plot twist since M. Night Shyamalan's Twister. Simon discovers that he has had already had a lengthy relationship with Elizabeth, but she had removed all memory of herself after a measly one hour session - because that's how the brain works. Put down that Freud or neuroscience bulls**t, and pick up a fresh copy of Hypnotism for Dummies!
The film ends with an ambiguous Inception-esque shot of Franck deciding whether Elizabeth removes all memory of her, as she did with Simon. At this point, the audience is still scratching their head over the last 30 minutes of the film they haven't even begun to process let alone comprehend the next mind f**k. The film's contrived style struggles to support itself on a tenuous plot that is disguised as the most complex plot since Primer. Yet Primer is a perfect example of how low budget and subtlety can be used to great effect, whereas Trance ignores potential for substance in favour of generic action and Bay-splosions. One violent sequence, in which one of Franck's droogs gets his poor b*ll*cks blow to kingdom come, resembles a Quentin Tarantino film parodying a Quentin Tarantino film.
There's no denying Trance is an adrenaline fuelled ride, with the sheer number of twists and turns you'd think you were watching Thorpe Park: The Movie. But a film doesn't need to be highly convoluted in order for it to be interesting and enjoyable. Akin to Nolan's masterful Memento, the film demands multiple viewings. Except instead of it getting better, you gradually realise how shallow and lacking of substance it is. Of course I shouldn't be expecting an intellectual experience on the level of bl**dy 2001: A Space Odyssey, but to have Boyle, a mainstream filmmaker, representing Britain, seems like an insult when we have superb filmmakers such as Chris Morris, Mike Leigh and Shane Meadows who don't get the recognition they deserve while this hack gets a free handj0b from cinephiles across the country. His most critically acclaimed Trainspotting is undeniably a great film, but Boyle seems to come across to me as extremely hit-and-miss. The equally acclaimed and financially successful Slumdog Millionaire is also a good film, but an overpraised 2-hour preach-fest. There's also 127 hours, which feels like you're sat there for 127 hours watching some poor s*d p*ss in his mouth and hack through his arm with a plastic army knife. But back to Trance.
The film is so stylistically incoherent; you'd think they had a new director every 10 minutes. As with most recent Boyle films, they do not have a specific style or themes to them. He is the British equivalent of Ron Howard: if you were to watch Apollo 13 and The DaVinci Code, you'd have no idea they were directed by the same person, they could have been made by anyone. Although, in a desperate bid to add slick and quirky style to the film, the Director of Photography appears to have had an epileptic fit while setting up every shot, resulting in an abundance of hideous canted angles. This, along with the use of an emphatic electronic score, leads you to believe you are engaging with the film in a cathartic manner. But it's not really Boyle doing this, or the films surprisingly stellar performances, but the obtrusive and overpowering music serving to compensate for the director's inability to convey emotions to the audience. (In contrast to this, 28 Days Later's penultimate sequence executes this beautifully). But it's not just the aesthetic qualities that should be under attack.
The film shifts between the protagonists, questioning who is really the moral guidance of the film. Elizabeth's motives for using Simon and Franck are virtually non-existent, so the audience has to either root for a greedy French tw*t, or a whimpering martyr. The characters are so one dimensional, it's as if they were picked out from a box of Joe Carnahan's discarded clichés. Franck's gang are a bunch of moronic t*ts whose stupid comedic antics seem out of place in a film that is trying to take itself seriously. In fact, the whole mob concept is so unconvincing it entirely destroys any immersion you had, along with the preposterously effective hypnosis from Rosario Dawson's steaming hot naked body
I mean mouth. As in words.
But who cares what I think? I'm just a m*r*n with an inflated sense of self-importance and a keyboard. Watch the film for yourself, well don't actually. Watch something good instead.
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