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Review: Oscar-winning director sends audiences into a ‘Trance’

Review: Oscar-winning director sends audiences into a ‘Trance’

April 12
14:02 2013

Preston Barta

Film Critic

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle returns to the film arena with “Trance,” a cerebral London-based psychological thriller that runs its audience’s brains through a marathon. While it may not be as lovable as Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) or as relentlessly gripping as “127 Hours” (2010), “Trance” is a thoroughly entertaining theme park ride that serves as one of the most alluring and beautifully transcendent films of the past decade.

“Trance” puts us into the mind of Simon (James McAvoy), a fine art auctioneer who becomes mixed up with a gang of criminals and a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) in order to retrieve a lost painting worth £27 million.

Boyle once again leaves us effortlessly amused and guessing what cards his film is holding. Some audiences will eat up its narrative complexities and unyielding execution. Meanwhile, others will find that the story zigzags so much that all concentration is lost. Either way, “Trance” is a well-crafted thriller that works the brain while treating the eyes.

McAvoy (“Wanted,” 2008) gives one his finest performances yet as the amiable Simon, hooking audiences from the beginning with his faultlessly delivered opening monologue. Dawson (“Seven Pounds,” 2008) has never been better. The quality of her performance and the depth of her character, brought on by screenwriters John Hodge (“Trainspotting,” 1996) and Joe Ahearne (“Doctor Who”), are astonishing. However, the real star is Vincent Cassel (“Black Swan,” 2010) as one of the charismatic criminals. He is the perfect mix of charming and evil to be equally loved and feared.

“Trance” weaves together great performances, an adrenalized musical score and potent cinematography around a complex structure of rabbit holes that comes close to being too clever for its own good. Nonetheless, open your eyes, turn on your brain and start running because this film has echoes of “Inception” (2010) and will make your head spin.

“Trance” opens today.

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