Missing art poses a problem in "Trance."

Missing art poses a problem in “Trance.”

I am always envious of people who can follow and enjoy a movie at which I can do neither.  Does it have to do with taste, brain synapses misfiring or attention span?  I have no idea, but one day I would like to devise an experiment to find out why this occurs and, most important, why, from time to time, it occurs in me.  On the other hand, if we all understood and enjoyed films equal to everyone else, maybe the movie world would not be as exciting.  That having been said, I must confess to being kind of lost in the new movie, aptly titled, “Trance.”

Despite my confusion, I will say though that “Trance” has an interesting premise.  An art thief has suffered amnesia and cannot remember where he hid a valuable painting that he stole.  The gang of thieves with whom he carried out the heist is, quite understandably, not happy with this development.  They hire a hypnotist, nicely played by Rosario Dawson, to work with the forgetful thief to jog his memory and find the stolen painting. I think director Alfred Hitchcock could have made a good film out of this idea, as he did in his movie “Spellbound” (1945), also a film about an amnesia victim.   The “Trance” cast also includes James McAvoy and Vincent Cassel.

What we have in “Trance” is a story in which we are not sure, at points, what is real and what is going on in someone’s head.  It is a little like Christopher Nolan’s film “Inception” (2010).  The difference is that “Inception” was compelling and, even though I did not “get” all of it, interesting enough to see a second time.

“Trance” was directed by Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionare” 2008 and “28 Days Later” 2002).  Boyle (or his editor) employs quick cutting, crosses and double crosses (maybe even triple crosses) and lightening fast exposition, all at such a dizzying pace that I found myself more confused than caught up in what could have been an intriguing psychological mystery.

To sum up, I left “Trance” feeling as if I was coming out of one, but not one that had provided rest, satisfaction or insight.  While I could certainly tell that the movie was well made, on a technical level, story-wise it left me cold and confused.  It might take another viewing or two to put it all together.  However, from what I experienced from my first “Trance,” I do not think additional viewings would be worth the effort.

“Trance” is playing locally at Angelika Film Center, 18 W. Houston Street.

Trance, Director Danny Boyle, 2013,

Fox Seachlight Pictures,  101 minutes, rated PG-13


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on April 9, 2013, in New and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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