Rorschach on DVD: Trance

trance-2013-movie-posterToday we have another special entry in Rorschach on DVD, a segment where I catch up with all of the diamonds in the rough that I have missed since the year’s beginning.  This time, we have a film that combines a director who has given us the likes of 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting with a genre which has given us the likes of Inception, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 12 Monkeys.  That movie is Trance; Danny Boyle’s mind-bending thriller starring James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel.  While its imaginative premise and Boyle’s skillful direction are enough to make you pay attention, an excess of late-game plot twists coupled with a resulting low amount of character development prevent Trance from measuring up to its director’s usual sterling standard.

Trance revolves around a botched art heist and the attempt to locate a stolen painting from the amnesia-stricken brain of one of its perpetrators (James McAvoy).  In order to retrieve the memory, the thieves seek the help of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson), thus 2013-04-09-trance_castsetting up the “mind bending” component that ultimately gives the film its identity.  I say this because while the way the premise is executed is more or less original, it still feels like more or less of the same kind of twist-filled thriller that we’ve seen many times before.  That isn’t to say that Trance is any sort of blatant Inception-knockoff or anything, but it’s hard not to see the plot similarities at nearly every turn.  Unfortunately, while Inception managed to counteract some deficiencies in character development with a high level of entertainment value, Trance’s darker tone does nothing to distract you from the fact that the characters are mostly chess pieces for the plot to move around.

Putting those issues aside, Trance is still far from a bad film.  The characters might be so bogged down in the explanation of plot mechanics that there’s hardly any time to develop images (5)their personalities, but the performances behind those characters are easily strong enough to keep you interested in what’s going on.  The plot twists come a little too fast and a little too abruptly in the film’s third act, but they still managed to surprise me more often than not.  Like most mind-bending movies, it would probably play better for a second viewing once you know enough to catch the subtleties that build up to the eventual reveals.  As for the first viewing, Trance is still an extremely interesting (if not quite satisfying) departure from the usual cookie-cutter storylines that usually dominate the release slate of any given year. 

The Verdict: 7.0/10 – Good

+ The plot is imaginative, ambitious and refreshingly light on predictability

+ McAvoy, Dawson and Cassel give some extremely dedicated performances

– The plot twists are too plentiful and too abrupt in the third act

– The script is more concerned with explaining the story than establishing the characters

Critical Consensus

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

IMDb: 7.0/10

Metacritic: 61/100

Other Reviews:

The Cinema Monster: 8.5/10

The Code is Zeek: 4/5

Committed to Celluloid: 4/5

CinEnemA: 4/5

A Door Into Movies: 3/4

Dan the Man Movie Reviews: 7.5/10

Filmhipster: 70%

Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop: 3.5/5

Fast Film Reviews: 3.5/5

CyniCritics: D+

Average: 7.2/10 – Good

About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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8 Responses to Rorschach on DVD: Trance

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Very twisty flick, and for that: It was fun. Not much else brewing beneath the surface, but still good for what it was. Good review Andy.

  2. Great review. I liked it a bit more than you did but I agree, towards the end it gets a bit too twisty.

  3. Spot on review Andy. I enjoyed it but it just got too twisted up in itself in the final third. I just ended up feeling a little confused and it wasn’t really a film that needed that.

  4. filmhipster says:

    Yeah, we’re both on the same page here Andy. Nice comparison to Inception, I didn’t really think of that.

    • r361n4 says:

      Interesting, it was the first thing that came to my mind but that’s probably because I’d seen it mentioned in a review before. Like I said, it’s not fair to immediately compare movies to the best in their genre, but sometimes the comparison is just begging to be made

  5. Monkeyboy says:

    Agree with this review, it is a bit too plot heavy. I gave it 3 and a half out of 5. I think one extra mark was because of nude Rosario Dawson. Yes, I’m shallow. 😉

  6. Sam says:

    I always liked Rosario, that’s why I was disappointed when her nude scene was edited on the DVD version. Only reason to see it twice.

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