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April 15, 2013 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Film Review – Trance

Directed by Danny Boyle

I’ll admit that I’ve never been enraptured with Danny Boyle the way others are. His movies are certainly eclectic and entertaining, but they never feel like anything more than middling genre experiments. Sadly, his latest picture doesn’t just continue this trend, it exacerbates it. Despite featuring a well-honed sense of visual flair, Trance is an appalling pile of drivel, assailing the audience with a chaotic story that never once makes you care about what’s going on.

Put simply, the film tells the story of an art auctioneer who participates in the heist of a valuable painting, but develops amnesia after a blow to the head and forgets where it is hidden. With a group of gangsters at his throat, Simon is forced to turn to a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth, to help him recover his memory. This initial premise is relatively interesting. Unfortunately, the film quickly descends into a convoluted mess of pseudo-science and abysmal drama.

Boyle seems to be obsessed with the supposed ‘ingenuity’ of the narrative, packing in an endless number of plot twists without stopping to consider why they should matter to the audience. As the story progresses, the law of diminishing returns quickly rears its ugly head: it becomes clear that each twist will soon be supplanted by the next one.

Moreover, the film’s characters are bland ciphers, prescribing to narrow archetypes necessary to fit some strained dramatic elements. They oscillate between motivations so fast that they never feel like organic creations. Some might say this is necessary due to the nature of the narrative, but it prevents us from empathising with the characters or their ever-changing ordeals.

What saves Trance from becoming completely intolerable is an intoxicating, if not groundbreaking, sense of style. Indeed, the alluring atmosphere, comprising a sheen tinged with sinister undercurrents, is far more effective at conveying the dual nature of this world than the ridiculous theatrics that the plot indulges in. Not everything works—as usual, Boyle sometimes decides to compose shots from bizarre angles—but it is an engaging aesthetic nonetheless.

However, this fails to sustain Trance’s seemingly interminable 100-minute runtime. By the time it reaches its nonsensical denouement, those who have managed to keep up with its labyrinthine story will be left wondering why on earth they bothered.

Verdict: 1.5/5

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