Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, April 6, 2013



Art as Realism

7.8 out of 10 | RENTAL

Rated: R Language, graphic nudity, sexual content, some grisly images and violence
Release Date: April 5, 2013 (limited)
Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes

Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Cast: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani, Matt Cross, Wahab Sheikh, Mark Poltimore

SYNOPSIS:  An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

REVIEW: Director Danny Boyle has come a long way from his work with Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. He has graduated from cult fare to international acclaim and attention with his recent 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire, as well as his work with the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in London. Returning to the genre where he started his craft, Danny Boyle teams with writers Joe Ahearne and his Trainspotting alum John Hodge for a cat-and-mouse, mind-bending tale involving a group of men and one woman all trying to find a stolen painting gone missing.

Simon (James McAvoy, X-Men: First Class) works in an auction house. When he is not taking a novice turn at the pulpit with his gavel, he stands ready as an attendant for any portrait or painting that comes across the podium. When a group of art thieves try to steal a just sold $23M painting, Simon wisks the painting away to be put into an inpenetrable vault away from the sticky fingers of the criminals. But the gang leader Frank (Vincent Cassel, Black Swan) thwarts Simon's heroics and steals the painting anyway. Afterward, Simon lands in the hospital and Frank finds that the painting he took from Simon's hands is not in the attache at all. When Frank is unable to pry the painting's location from an amnescic Simon, they must work together and with the help of a hypnotherapist named Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson, Zookeeper) to unravel Simon's mind in an effort to find where Simon ditched the painting between the robbery and him waking up in the hospital. Through the doctor's efforts to locate the painting, both Simon and Frank are subjected to emotions and situations that they did not expect.

Danny Boyle crafts a strange and winding tale in this British-based suspense thriller. Instead of a full-on  smash and grab caper like the slick and cool The Thomas Crown Affair or the light hearted Mickey Blue Eyes, Trance is less about the theft of a painting and more about the theft of a series of memories. Sure, the galvanizing and anchoring element is the sought after painting, but that becomes a deriviate as Dr. Elizabeth Lamb reaches into the minds of her newfound cohorts. She uses her soft voice on one, and her soft body on another to make her way through against a pack of hardened men.

James McAvoy's Simon touts at the beginning that the era of smashing and grabbing artwork from auction houses is no longer as simple as walking into the main chamber with a couple hulking brutes and walking out with priceless paintings. It's a new era of technology and resources, making it ever more difficult to steal from the auction house. The auction houses raise the level of their security measures in response to robbery, and the robbers up their game with better strategic planning and more tech, as well. When Frank and his crew invade the bidding chamber, Simon removes the painting from the equation as his training had taught him. But is McAvoy's Simon more of a Simple Simon or Simon Says? Is he just a pawn in Frank's plans, or is he something more?

Although not the first choices for casting (according to some reports), Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson seem perfect in their roles. James McAvoy has proven himself a perfect kinetic acting creature with wide emotional ranged roles in Wanted and Atonement. Dawson and Cassel do the same in their roles of the put-upon doctor of hypnosis and a thief still missing his loot. The chemistry between the trio seethes onscreen, riding a fine line between eroticism and fear. McAvoy's Simon just wants the memory of the location of the painting out of his mind so he can keep the rest of his fingernails. Cassel's Frank just wants the painting. But what is Dawson's Lamb's ultimate motivation to stay in the company of these madmen?

Boyle paces out the film well, always keeping the audience guessing as to the actual direction and finality of things. For better or worse, the missteps and misdirections may make for an excellent suspense thriller caper or may just leaving audiences shaking and scratching their heads. Some of the techniques and plot points moving the story along may be a bit contrived, but the story is tight enough to make it all work in the framework of the film. The reveal in the third act between Frank, Simon, and Elizabeth is satisfying enough, while the ending seems a little too wrapped up.

Trance keeps up interest as audiences try to sort through all of the interwoven threads of what is memory, what is real, and what is manufactured. In limited release in the Untied States, Danny Boyle's latest effort reveals characters with 'a life less ordinary'.

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