Friday, April 12, 2013

Danny Boyle’s Surreal Thriller TRANCE Is A Flashy Blast

Opening today exclusively in Raleigh at the Colony Theater:

TRANCE (Dir. Danny Boyle, 2013)

Despite its digital trappings, Danny Boyle’s 11th film is a visual feast for the eyes, a stylish thriller that has the drive of his cult classic TRAINSPOTTING as filtered through the cerebral invention of Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION.

James McAvoy, in a role that I guess Ewan McGregor is too old for, plays an auctioneer who gets mixed up in a heist of a Goya painting worth 27.5 million British pounds. A gripping opening sequence of the robbery has Boyle’s flair for flashy quick cut action firing at all cylinders, neatly timed to U.N.K.L.E.’s “Hold My Hand” (including a sample from David Bowie’s “Be My Wife”). 

Then the problematic yet punchy premise kicks in: McAvoy gets hit in the head by Vincent Cassel as the leader of the gang of thieves, and later after the dust settles, he can’t remember where he hid the painting. Even a icky torture scene can’t bring the memory to surface.

That’s where Rosario Dawson, as a high end hypnotist, comes in. Although Cassel and crew (including Danny Sapani, Matt Cross, and Wahab Sheikh) outfit McAvoy with a wire, and attempt to keep the reason for the therapy hush hush, Dawson figures them out immediately and wants in on a cut of the painting’s profits.

So some sequences of hypnotherapy surreal-ness are in store, as is a love triangle between McAvoy, Cassel, and Dawson. The plot mechanics around the twists and turns of the third act become a bit strained (I agreed with Cassel when he complained about the process to get the information from McAvoy taking too long), but the film retains its clever energy in a way that didn’t piss me off even when it kept faking me out.

The screenplay by Doctor Who writer Joe Ahearne and Boyle collaborator John Hodge (SHALLOW GRAVE, TRAINSPOTTING, THE BEACH) gives us a bunch of cinematic puzzle pieces that keep you guessing about what’s real and what’s a dream, what the character’s real motives are, and most interestingly, who’s the real protagonist here that we should be rooting for?

With her poise, confidence, and stunning presence, Dawson steals the movie every time she’s on camera. It’s quite possibly her finest performance in film to date, one that pleasingly takes on an incredibly implausible character, but that could well be overshadowed by her being as visually stunning as Anthony Dod Mantle’s (another long-time Boyle collaborator) cinematography.

McAvoy brings a convincing stressed out vibe, and Cassel gives it his Euro-trash best, but again, your eyes will most likely always be on Dawson.

As the director/producer Boyle’s recent work goes, TRANCE isn’t as substantial as Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE or 127 HOURS, but it’s a lot of vivid, visceral fun. If one doesn’t scrutinize it too deeply, or take it too seriously, they should be in for a blast.

More later...

1 comment:

Trijaya Samudera Utama said...

blogwalking,nice blog, thanks