Excuse me while I’ll take a moment, I do believe I’ve been Inceptioned (not a real word, but sadly I’m also going to assume that it’s one that countless others have used to describe the moment when a film is so complicated, yet so good, that they walk away from the cinemas feeling as though their mind has just been hit with a frying pan.  In a good way), by Danny Boyle’s latest offering in Trance.

Let me just add, for the first time in a while (when it comes to films) I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed.  With a cast including James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson being directed by Danny Boyle (who’s known for 127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire and Trainsporting), I thought it’d be safe to have high expectations. Turns out I was right.

In very basic terms (because if I try to explain the entire plot it will take forever, be incredibly boring AND ruin it for anyone who is planning to see it), Trance follows Simon (James McAvoy), an art auctioneer who deals only with the most expensive paintings in the world.  When a Goya painting is up for sale, an art heist occurs, spearheaded by Franck (Vincent Cassel) and they attempt to steal the painting from Simon.  Although Franck thinks he has been successful, particularly after he has knocked out Simon with a blow to the head, he soon discovers that the frame is empty.

After a couple of months in the hospital and a case of amnesia, Simon returns how to find his house ransacked.  Turns out, he was part of the gang that attempted to steal the painting and his double-crossed them.  An even bigger problem, is that after being hit, with force, by a blunt object to the head, Simon can’t remember where he put the 27.5 million pound painting.  Whoops.

Cue Elizabeth Lamb (Rosaria Dawson) (note the last name, it’s semi-important), a hypnotist who has been hired by Franck to extract the memory from Simon’s mind.  Only thing is, the human mind, memories (both remembered and forgotten) are much more complicated than one may think.

Cue about 10 plot twists, some you may have considered, others that will blow your mind and there you have it, the plot to Trance.

I really enjoyed this film, for numerous reasons.  The number one reason being that at no point was I bored, distracted or unsurprised by the twists that kept turning up.  I felt that Trance, while at times over-the-top, didn’t seem entirely unbelievable, although I still don’t really know how much hypnotists actually do.  And they kinda give me the creeps, so I’m not too keen to test them out.

The storyline moved along at a pace that was fast enough that it never got boring, but also at a speed that didn’t leave me confused or scrambling to catch up.  For me, this was very important, because in the past, even when I have enjoyed certain thrillers, I have been somewhat bemused for at least two thirds of the film, until it is explained by my movie companion afterwards, in slow and painstaking detail, exactly what the heck happened.

Furthermore, I felt that at the end of the film  there was still a part of me that was very interested in the characters’ lives, even though my questions had been answered.  I lingered over the storyline, the motives and the twists long after the credits rolled, which I think is always a sign of a good film.

Boyle’s direction, although at times somewhat ambitious (one got the impression he wanted this film to be a bit of everything), was superb.  Where to start?

First, the non-linear storyline was done perfectly, particularly given the subject matter.  Sometimes obvious, other times somewhat confusing and at times not even real, the many different parts to the film eventually joined up at the very end to provide clarity for the viewer.

This non-linear structure was complemented by the obscure camera angles and heightened colour that Boyle used throughout Trance.  Somehow, even a camera angle that is only just off provides a completely new set of emotions for viewers, and while Boyle did it subtlety, it worked every time.  Feelings of unease, chaos, confusion and a sense of unreality always began to fill me when these moments occurred.

Second, the psychedelic lighting, at times subtle, while at other times bordering on the fantastical, heightened the senses, which quickly changed from shock to suspense, dread to surprise, was also just enjoyable to watch; something different from the thousands of aesthetically perfect Hollywood films out there.  And the occasional use of over-the-top special effects just added to this enjoyment.

Lastly, the camera angles and colour scheme gave the film an overall ‘action comic’ vibe that was emphasised by McAvoy’s acting, which was at times punctured when he started speaking to the camera directly.  His acting during these moments greatly reminded me of another action film he was in, Wanted, but thankfully for  myself, Trance was nothing like the former.

While the cast was made of up a trio of strong actors, each of whom have been in critically acclaimed films, I wasn’t overwhelmed, or underwhelmed, by their performances.  Each actor suited their role perfectly without dragging the spotlight away from the storyline.  Special mention goes to Rosario Dawson, who bared her vagina not once, but twice.  If that doesn’t interest you enough, it may help to know that she refers to her own vagina as ‘The General’.  As you do.

The only aspect of this film that I didn’t enjoy is when Dawson’s character, Elizabeth, becomes romantically involved with both Franck and Simon.  While it may have had to do with the overall control she had with the two men, through sexual attraction, hypnotherapy or a combination of the two, I felt it was unnecessary to the overall storyline, and was, in part, unexplained by the ending of the film.

If you’re a fan of action, thriller, mind-benders, or vaginas, then this is the film for you.  And if that still hasn’t convinced you, you get to see James McAvoy’s arse, who for some reason, I, and many others, find incredibly attractive.

Have you seen Trance?  Are you a fan of Danny Boyle?  What did you think?  Let me know!

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