Trance (2013)

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Crazy dang movie with a twisty non-linear plot whose madness is only heightened by the patented off the wall Danny Boyle directorial style of crazy cuts, extreme closeups, insane visuals, and neon colored backgrounds that defines all his movies. This is cinematic insanity at its finest, and it’s brilliant for the most part, save a wonky plot that only seems to make less sense as it goes on, some questionable editing/pacing near the middle, and a weird ending I couldn’t make much sense of. But, strangely, I didn’t care. The plot may not be nearly as clever as it aspires to be, but the film is so fun, so well made, so utterly bonkers in every other possible respect that it almost surpasses the need for coherency. Almost. And what great acting all around, especially from James McAvoy who is such a good freaking actor. He has to do so much here, capture so many different moods in such a short amount of time, often within the same scene, and he pulls it all off brilliantly. The man is a powerhouse. I see an Oscar in his future, if he plays his cards right/the stars align.

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The film is just insane. Not sure how else to put it. The plot is insane, the style is insane, the acting from the lead is insane. It’s showy and over the top, which would be extremely annoying had anyone other than Boyle directed it, I imagine. The man is a master of the medium, clearly. Not sure how the hell he does it, how he knows exactly what cuts to use and music to play for maximum effect, but it works, all of it, brilliantly, even during moments where you have no idea what the hell is going on, which come often, especially in the last half or so. He may not always make the right decisions story wise, but visually, the man is a genius. He has a very distinct, instantly noticeable style, which is rare in filmmakers these days. It’s almost 90s Oliver Stone-esque at times, only flashier and even less coherent, if you can believe it. But, again, it works, somehow, magically. The mark of a truly gifted filmmaker.

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The story, yes, is a bit too nutty for its own good. It sort of makes sense if you don’t think about it too much, especially the stuff that happens in the second half when things really get wacky. I think the main issue with it is that it cheats; stuff happens in the second half that clearly wasn’t established in the first, or only works in a ludicrous, no way in hell sense you just wouldn’t get from a movie taking place in the real world. I understand that the structure of the story is supposed to be discombobulated given the main character’s fractured state of mind, but you can only use that tactic so many times to drive your film forward before it starts to ring hollow, especially at the end when the film takes **SPOILERS** a weird turn and decides to no longer follow our lead character, on account of his being dead and all. **END SPOILERS** And yet, it’s still all strange and choppy and difficult to get a handle on, especially that final scene. What the hell was going on there exactly? Who knows.

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Overall, I really liked this film, plot warts and all. It’s fun and suspenseful and extremely well done and entertaining, and really funny throughout. And the film is so dark despite being shot in such a frantic, jovial manner. Very odd contrast, yet it works. The acting is also really good, from McAvoy especially who is just brilliant, but also Vincent Cassel who has one of the most interesting faces I’ve ever seen in an actor. Rosario Dawson is good too, though a bit stiff at times, maybe intentionally, who knows. And man is she sexy here. Good for her, the stuff she does. Very bold. Wasn’t expecting it, but hey, she has nothing to be ashamed of. And some scenes are just great cinematically, like when **SPOILERS** McAvoy is recalling his experience yelling at that woman after she hits him with her car and all those arms are grabbing him and pulling him away from her, or the scene in the car when Dawson’s character is explaining to him what’s really going on and that sad music plays, or the whole final action sequence which is ridiculous and over the top, yes, but so tense and well shot. **END SPOILERS** Great stuff. Loved it.

It’s unconventional and wacky, sure, and the story goes off the rails more times than it ought to, and it doesn’t completely make sense when all is said and done, but it’s still a really good movie with a lot of great stuff to enjoy, from performances to visuals to individual scenes. It’s fun for the whole family, as they say. Just don’t take children to see it. But worth watching, absolutely. Strongly recommended.

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