Danny Boyle is rightfully mentioned in the same breath as legendary British directors David Lean, Alfred Hitchcock and Ken Loach. After winning an Oscar in 2008 with Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle took on two projects at the same time; the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony and his newest feature film release, Trance.
PSA: This is a no spoilers review, because that would be unfair for you all!
Trance is a crime thriller in which James McAvoy finds himself at the mercy of a group of criminals after a bungled painting theft. The movie has a marshmallow-like structure, insofar as it deals with time, memory and dream states but in a very sticky, challenging-to-navigate manner.
If you were to make a breakfast milkshake of the best parts of all Boyle’s movies – camerawork, cinematography and colour of Slumdog, music of The Beach, screenplay and character dynamics of Trainspotting and Shallow Grave, and shocking, visceral elements of 28 Days Later – you would have the thirst-quenching wonderfulness that is Trance. Firstly, this movie has the best opening twenty minutes of any film this decade. It has to be seen to be believed but it is electrically-paced. If David Lynch can be considered an auteur of sound, then Boyle is an auteur of music; he knows exactly the right tracks to use at the right time and is bang on trend. We get McAvoy’s character set up, the criminals introduced and the disequilibrium for the protagonist started, all set to a pounding soundtrack that has become so synonymous with Boyle. All of this prologues the rest of the movie in a wonderful way and goosebumps were even sprouted on one occasion!
Once our hypnotist (Rosarios Dawson) is introduced (which you will see in the trailer), it does get a little expositiony, and there was a small period in which it felt like the plot had to be described because we were falling down the rabbit hole. This was only a short occurrence, and the tone of the film, its humour, shocks and spirit shone throughout the runtime. That’s another wonderful thing about Trance. Despite all of the shocks (of which there are many), there was a thread of humour woven into the narrative and the character arcs for McAvoy and Cassel were extremely detailed and worked in harmony perfectly. It shouldn’t be dwelt on but Rosario Dawson delivers more than one can imagine in her role as the hypnotist.
The movie is shot in London and seems to carry on a trend of making England’s capital look beautiful. We think Creevy (Welcome to the Punch) would have begged, borrowed and stolen to make a film as rich in narrative content while being a pleasure to watch. The only true thing that one could take exception to in Trance is when McAvoy uses an iPhone app in an iPad, which NO ONE should do, ever.
*end tongue-in-cheek geek rant*
Overall, Trance was such a pleasure to watch at the cinema. The colour palette, camera angles and cinematography, music, and filmic spirit need to be seen/heard on a big screen and were all contributors to the audience leaving with massive smiles on their faces. That’s not to say that the third act doesn’t reach some dark places, but Boyle is the perfect person at the helm to guide you on the ride. Avoid all spoilers and go into it fresh. If someone starts telling you details of the film, put your fingers in your ears and run away. You do not want to ruin this movie for yourself.