Let’s give Danny Boyle some love before I dig my nails into his film.
First of all I love the way his films LOOK. The way he uses colour, the striking visuals and the use of imagery – especially Sunshine – very sexy stuff. Trance is no exception. He uses reflections and framing to stitch scenes, settings and time together seamlessly or fragment perception, which suits the fluidity and dissonance of moving between states of trance and being awake. Good.
His films are also the stories I love best – they’re psychological thrillers about people pushed to their limits in extreme situations and how that manifests fantastically. Basically people losing their shit and going crazy.
In Trance, the film itself goes crazy. This is not so good. It’s almost as if it got too carried away confusing us that it then lost the plot itself and couldn’t tie up loose ends convincingly.
We assume from all the hypnotherapy sessions centred around Simon (James McAvoy) that the film is his story, from his perspective. But point-of-view ends up being hot-potatoed between Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) and Franck (Vincent Cassel) towards the end. It’s an unnecessary and unconvincing move. If the last three minutes were to be cut and Boyle had found another way to reveal his twist ending that it was Elizabeth who wanted the painting for herself all along, the film could have ended a little neater and more satisfying.
Almost everyone in the cinema was perplexed by the movie from start to end. My brother hated it because he couldn’t follow and that frustrated him. I have more tolerance for non-linear storytelling and ‘experimental’ narratives than he does and genuinely wanted to love this film. The intercutting of two consecutive scenes together as one sequence was a bit of a mindfuck but made me appreciate the unusual approach once I realised what was going on, because it worked. In that sequence, it created a mess but still had a point, leaving you room to connect the dots. I like a film that does that well. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for example. But sadly, Trance didn't quite hit its mark. It made a mess but couldn't clean itself up in the end.