Thursday, September 12, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Trance (2013) **

R, 101 min.
Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani, Matt Cross, Wahab Sheikh, Mark Poltimore, Tuppence Middleton

“Trance” is what I call a ‘jerk around’ movie. It spends all of its time jerking the audience around with a plot that depends on one person pulling all the strings in situations that they could neither predict nor control, yet somehow they do. This is a dangerous trap in which filmmakers often ensnare themselves when they try to make a heist picture with an original twist. The movie becomes all about the twist and starts to unravel under the slightest scrutiny.

This is a heist picture about the theft of a painting. It involves an inside man who loses his memory after being hit upon the head in the heist. After torture fails, the crew decides to take their man to a hypno-therapist, who might be a little more than she seems, or she might just be a little too good at her job. Well, she might want to think about becoming some sort of professional prognosticator with her incredible ability to tell the future. The plot gets so wrapped up in the how of things that it just keeps going with it until it is far past logical plausibility.

It’s possible to make a heist film of this type work, but only if you rely on the characters to make the plot work instead of the twist. The twist will come naturally, if the characters make sense. It really such a surprise to see this failure come from Danny Boyle after his recent successes, the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” and Oscar-nominated “127 Hours”, or his earlier sort of heist film “Millions”. That is probably the director’s most overlooked masterpiece. It works because it is not about the heist, but about the ramifications it has on a boy’s life. This one needed to be brought back to the drawing board.

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