Film Review: Trance

The psychology of human memory has often been fertile ground for filmmakers. Modern blockbusters such as Inception and Memento have explored the depths of what can be locked — or indeed lost — inside one’s mind. In a similar spirit, Trance questions whether the decision to remember is as straightforward as it seems.Served initially as a heist film, we are introduced to Simon (Atonement‘s James McAvoy), an auctioneer of priceless artwork responsible for protecting a Goya masterpiece. But when the auction arrives, so do a band of heavily armed men out to make a cool £25 Million by stealing the canvas.Here’s the kicker though—Simon was the inside man and has now mislaid the painting after a hefty dose of amnesia.Not content with the medical diagnosis, gang leader Franck (Black Swan‘s Vincent Cassel) decides to submit Simon to hypnotherapy in order to regain his lost memories. Enter Elizabeth (Rent‘s Rosario Dawson), the beguiling hypnotist chosen to mine into the depths of Simon’s mind.Within Trance, all three central characters are continuously moving from sympathetic to sinister. There is an undercurrent of lust, brutality and suspicion that exists between the trio, complimenting the warped nature of the plot and heightening the tension.While McAvoy expertly handles his character’s many emotional transitions, Dawson is the true spectacle of this film. She is endlessly captivating. Elizabeth’s mysterious existence is the enigma that drives most of the action, and without Dawson’s impressive performance the film would have suffered greatly. Cassel rounds out the threesome with a solid and enigmatic performance.It must be acknowledged, however, that Trance is often visually graphic to the point of revulsion and is not for the faint-hearted.Far more Trainspotting than Slumdog Millionaire, director Danny Boyle has once again crafted a gritty study in the ability to control and coerce the actions of others. It is Boyle’s use of unusual visual perspective that ensures Trance has a compelling screen presence to accompany the seductive nature of the plot. Some may be frustrated by the final act explanation, but if you allow yourself to enter the psychological minefield that Trance creates, you will be well rewarded for your trouble.Trance is now showing in Australian cinemasby Ashleigh McMillan

April 14th 2013
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