“I remember that day”
Danny Boyle has become a household name after taking the reigns of he British Olympics opening ceremony last year and Trance is his first film since. It is a film that has seemingly split opinions of audiences and critics and I can’t really make my mind up about it so am stuck firmly on the fence. The film which originally cast Michael Fassbender in the lead before rumours of Colin Firth taking over (he really wouldn’t have suited this style) finally settled on James McAvoy leading the psychological thriller that if you are open enough to from the very start you can solve within the first 40-minutes.
Aesthetically, Trance is dazzling as well as very easy to get lost in, imagery designed to make you lose track of all time and narrative, the backdrop against a stunningly shot London mixed with stylish designs and wardrobe for the cast make Trance look every inch the piece of cult film it really, really wants to be. If I was to judge this film solely on how it looks and how it has been shot so the audience is never entirely sure what is in someone’s mind or real life I would say it is a masterpiece, easily one of the coolest looking films with the most intense of soundtracks I have probably ever seen in my life. I have to look at more than just the sparkly designs however and also inspect the story itself.
My main problem is the fact Boyle bites off more than he can maybe chew and tries to be too clever with a story that maybe isn’t as good at keeping he audience as much in tack as they should be. The script appears to jump and dodge so often it soon begins to lose the thread of its own story. It appears to be written so tightly that the whole genre of psychodrama eventually splits in two and makes little to no sense exploiting some frightful plot holes (that can be ignored) and which tarnish the whole film’s reasonings.
Trance is a film that depends absolutely and completely on the final twist really playing off, now ignoring the fact that Trance twists so many times it ends up turning in on itself as a film the final twist is limp by time we eventually get there. It looks good and is pulse pounding while on screen but on a whole, from a film where the audience are expecting great, huge things it doesn’t deliver. My final criticism of the feature is the fact it follows suit at the end, in a pathetic ploy to make it some sort of cult ending similar to that of Inception we get another one of these ‘what happens/is it real’ endings. Something that is nice when done to the right degree but in a film like this where it was hard enough to distinguish between reality and trance state I don’t think it needed this final delivery. From my reading into the film I decided the audience were meant to distinguish between reality and trance states by imagery on the walls and memories Simon holds as well as slanted camera angles which made everything seem even less wall. As the movie progressed though, these slanted images became so frequent I verged on giving up altogether.
Overall, Trance is a film so twisty and slippery that it almost succeeds in making you give up altogether, however it is frequently beautiful in the way it looks and always engaging and the trance imagery is almost melancholic in the design and the colourfulness set against the otherwise dark and dreary setting of the backstreet holdout where the crime is organised. The trailer did make this film look a little like something else and as if Simon was being used and would instad be a story of would he escape and realise, however, from early on you learn it is very different and is even easily solved. The soundtrack, imagery and design is what makes this film worthwhile and where it is good on the whole the lifeless end does leave you feeling empty, I would however say this film could well be a grower.