Blu-ray Review: Trance (2013)

STUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle | CAST: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Danny Sapiani, Matt Cross
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 7/23/2013 | PRICE: Blu-ray $29.99, DVD $22.98
BONUSES: featurettes, deleted scenes, short film, more
SPECS: R | 101 min. | Crime thriller | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English with English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall


When filmmaker Danny Boyle isn’t delivering his own distinctive, highly visual brand of cinema in such tough-to-categorize films as Trainspotting, 127 Hours, Millions and the Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire, he serves his genres respectfully–while still putting his own special twist on them (see the sci-fi entry Sunshine and the zombie flick 28 Days Later).

With the psycho-sexual noir-thriller crime mystery Trance, Boyle throws in the whole kitchen sink and concocts a genre cocktail that feels familiar even as it “Boyles” over with the energy and color that is the filmmaker’s trademark.

Trance movie scene

Rosario Dawson gets involved in a brain-draining art heist in Trace.

It begins with a robbery—or, rather, a couple of them—when art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy, X-Men: First Class) double-crosses the gang responsible for the theft of a priceless Goya painting, resulting in a blow to the head and an amnesiac Simon, who is left unable to remember where he has hidden the painting. Gang leader Franck (Vincent Cassel, Black Swan) promptly hires a gorgeous female hypnotist Elizabeth (Dawson, Fire with Fire) to find the answer locked inside Simon’s head. But as Liz delves ever deeper into Simon’s subconscious, the lines between fantasy and reality spiral, converge and spin wildly out of control, raising the threat of even more double-crosses and violence.

Though it’s fast-paced, unpredictable, and  increasingly sexy as the story progresses, the unpredictability factor turns into a liability for Trance, as the chronologically splintered tale seemingly unspools in Simon’s mind—until it jumps to another character’s thoughts—and doesn’t give the viewer enough threads to hold tightly onto. That said, the visual package is a trip—Boyle and company gives us a plethora of startling images and kaleidoscopic angles set to razzle-dazzle lighting, editing and music. And the cast is up to filling in the human element of Boyle’s collage, particularly Dawson, who memorably offers one of the most unique full-frontal sequences ever seen in a mainstream film.

Oh, and all of Trance’s visual and audio power is presented gorgeously in its Blu-ray rendering.

The healthy selection of bonus features include seven deleted scenes (all of which were well-excised, as the story is confusing enough and they aren’t necessary for further clarification—or confusion) and a solid half-hour making of  piece (where it’s not acknowledged that the film is based on a screenplay that was previously made into a 2001 British TV movie). There’s also the baffling inclusion of a short film by Spencer Susser and a fifteen-minute-long ode to Boyle that offers his comments and clips on the films he’s made for Fox Searchlight and his praise for the studio that’s been his home for some fifteen years.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.