Trance. Listen to Crimezine’s voice. Look into the eyes, not around the eyes 321. You are under—transported into Danny “Slumdog Millionaire’”Boyle’s crimetastic new movie Trance. Crimeziners will no doubt know Boyle’s work from such disparate classics as Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and James Franco vehicle 127 hours—no arm hacking at the back of class please.
This tense psychological crime thriller stars James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel and the action kicks off when fresh-faced Simon (McAvoy) decides he can use his position as a fine art auctioneer to make some quick cash, by stealing an old master painting.
But as is so often the case, the plan goes badly awry, and Simon’s villainous associates led by Franck (Cassel) become enraged when it appears that clean cut Simon has double crossed them and stolen the painting for himself. Naturally they torture him extensively, but poor old Simon got bonked on the head during the robbery and now he cannot remember where he put the painting. [Curses] Enter the gorgeous and exotic Rosario Dawson as hypnotist Elizabeth Lamb and pretty soon both Simon and his partners in crime are learning some short order truths they rather wish they hadn’t.
Trance is classic Boyle. B movie crime with a plot that is Twistier than Topaga Canyon, how twisty is that? we hear you ask—like a seniors sightseeing trip in Switzerland and then some. The screenplay by is by TV writer Joe Aherne and John Hodge, who has worked on many of Boyle’s classic movies. Interestingly, Aherne came up with the screenplay for Trance in 1994. It is said that Boyle thought the idea too ambitious at the time, so in 2001 Aherne turned the script into a TV movie. Now, after a marathon journey Trance resurfaces for the big screen.
Although this is a Brit flick, it manages to transcend many of the pitfalls that British crime cinema has fallen into recently, namely a self-conscious tendency to favor self parody over innovation, or an overreliance on the heavily structured Hollyweird plot model, that chooses gunfights and explosions over pretty much anything.
Clearly Boyle and Co. have chosen a European feel for this movie, more particularly a French feel. It can be no coincidence that the multi talented Cassel, a major French movie star, was chosen for the role of Franck. Cassel has starred in such Frenchie crime classics as La Haine and Irréversible as well as mainstream Hollywood movies such as Oceans Twelve. And most notably received the 2009 Cesar award for best actor for his performance in Mesrine, directed by Jean-Francois Richet.
So Crimeziners, if you are a fan of trippy European crime cinema with a heavy side order of mystery so complex that no gunfight/explosion movie will ever seem the same—you need to see Trance. See it now, tell them Crimezine sent you. 321 You are back in the room.