Danny Boyle has never pigeonholed himself like so many great directors do. He avoids big budget studio films and doesn’t stay within one genre. He is forever chasing originality and as a result has turned out great film after great film, carving out an incredibly unique and awe-inspiring filmography.
Boyle aims to keep this trend going with Trance, a sexually charged thriller from Boyle’s trusty old writing pal John Hodge. Trance follows Simon, a fine-art auctioneer who is involved in the theft of a precious painting. Simon was the last person to have the painting, but after being knocked out he can’t remember where it is. Franck, the gang leader, hires a hypnotherapist to help Simon find where the painting is. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The film flows effortlessly with constant jolts of energy. I’ve said it before, but this is signature Boyle, this is how he directs. It moves at the briskest of pace and doesn’t allow the viewer any time to catch their breath. If you zone out or go to the toilet, you are fucked. This is Boyle’s forte. He wants your attention for 100 minutes and he isn’t going to let up until he has completely got it. It sometimes proves too much for some, but strangely despite being typical stylistic Boyle, he manages to find the perfect balance here and produces a film that has the right dose of style.
To get this feeling Boyle has hired all the behind the scenes regulars. John Hodge is back writing for Boyle after a lengthy time apart, he is a fearless writer and has never been afraid to take viewers to places they’ve never been before. He has written the perfect twisty-turny unpredictable thriller for Boyle’s mental direction. Also back is cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, after 5 films with Boyle he has this schtick downpat and it features some of his best work yet.
It is hard to talk about the cast without spoiling key plot details. Rosario Dawson is the standout for me, mainly because I’ve never seen her act with this much depth before. She is a force to reckoned with and quite frankly blows the other two leads out of the park. Not that they slouch though, Cassel is oddly restrained and keeps he usual craziness to a minimum, but still manages to produce an absorbing character. McAvoy is the weak link, he is great early in the piece, but he really struggles to be menacing when it is required.
Trance is absolutely insane. It feels like an old-school 80s psycho-sexual thriller, but instead of being trashy it is intelligent thanks to John Hodge’s genius screenplay. Boyle’s film is dripping with suspense and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The violence is sick, the score is pulsating and the film will be screwing with your head long after you’ve left the cinema.
4.5 out of 5.0