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Saturday, 13 April 2013 21:29

'Trance' casts a spell

'Trance' casts a spell criterionpic.com
Written by Diane Carson
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Gleefully convoluted, director Danny Boyle's "Trance" invites second-guessing from its opening scenes to its last. Simon, who works at the high-end London auction house, directly addresses the camera, explaining security strategy. Seconds later, the heist of the multimillion-dollar Goya "Witches in the Air" kicks the plot into high gear.

From square one, there's no question that Simon got involved with club owner Franck, a tough criminal with three henchmen, all double-crossed. But after Simon is knocked out during the theft, he must be hypnotized by therapist Elizabeth Lamb to reclaim his memory of what did happen with the painting. The conflicts involve money, sex, and power--all the usual suspects--presented in flashy manner with a high gloss style.

Fire and water, claustrophobia and openness, impenetrable darkness and highly reflective glass and mirrors--cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle's oppositional concepts and doubled images keep duality foremost. As Boyle describes it, reality and hence his visuals slide from one surface to another, questioning the credibility of the narrator.

As Simon, James McAvoy is a multifaceted, wily protagonist with Vincent Cassel a stupendous Franck, alternately terrifying and inviting in a great performance. Rosario Dawson as Elizabeth brings a calm voice with a hypersexual rush to the proceedings. I wish she'd been developed more as her complex character warranted.

"Trance" is the latest installment in Boyle's adrenalin charged cinema, though at moments a level of gratuitous violence (unnecessary to the plot) intrudes. In addition, Boyle includes, as is typical, only full frontal female nudity. A true iconoclast would rebel more fully. Nicely, in passing, he does implicitly comment on the art world. I'd have welcomed more substance there as well. Still, "Trance" offers a well-executed carnival ride with blind corners, exhilarating highs, and a few heady spins delivering satisfying jolts with no real danger. At a Landmark Theatre.

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