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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 6, 2013

"Trance" Movie Review: Oscar Winning Director Fails In Making A Psycho-Sexual Thriller

DANNY BOYLE won the Oscar for “Slumdog Millionaire”. His works are more of hits and misses: “Shallow Grave”, “Trainspotting”, “Millions”, “A Life Less Ordinary”, “The Beach”, “127 Hours”, the utterly disappointing “Sunshine”. In “Trance”, he attempts to make a thriller reminiscent of the works of Hitchcok, Brian de Palma and Christopher Nolan. It’s about a heist involving an art auctioneer, Simon (James McAvoy), who is hit on the head by art thieves aiming to steal a multi-million-dollar Goya classic painting. He’s hailed by media as a hero for trying to fight the robbers but the truth is that he is in cahoots with the bad guys led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) because of his addiction to gambling that got him into a lot of debts.

Franck gets so mad when he discovers that Simon has put one over them and they didn’t succeed in getting the painting. Upon his release from the hospital, Simon is kidnapped and tortured by Franck and his men to find out where he kept the painting. But it turns out he got amnesia and can’t really remember where he hid the painting.

Franck then sends him to a therapist, Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson), who’ll hypnotize him to try to retrieve his memory of where he stashed the painting.

At this point, us viewers begin to realize that the movie is playing tricks on us. Are we seeing the truth or something else? Things gets so twisted and complicated that even after the movie has ended, there’s a nagging feeling that we’ve been had, as things remain uncertain and Boyle seems to be just asking us to form our individual interpretations about what we saw on screen. In this sense, the movie becomes too contrived, manipulative and self indulgent for comfort, trying to pull the rug under our feet all the time, with the major characters just used as pawns to forward the narrative in a way that the director thinks is cleverly unpredictable.

But the problem is he never succeeds in making us truly care for his characters. They are all bad people with their own evil ulterior motives, so they all deserve punishment. You expect the movie will Bbe a pscyho-sexual thriller that will provide some truly mind-bending surprise after solving some kind of a convoluted puzzle, but in the end, you don’t really care as the movie simply lacks heart.

The actors try hard to be believable in their respective roles but they somehow fail to make an impression because of their asinine roles. In fairness to Rosario Dawson, she manages to catch our attention by having no qualms in doing full frontal nudity not just once but a couple of times. Despite this, the movie has little mainstream appeal, which is why it’s not surprising that it’s a big flop not only here but also in international markets.