Saturday, April 27, 2013

Trance (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


In what would seem an all too twisty cat and mouse tale with more curves than Rosario Dawson, Danny Boyle's psychedelic thriller "Trance" succeeds in spite of itself on the strength of its characters.

James McAvoy stars as Simon, a fine art auctioneer who is down on his luck over a gambling debt. The excellent actor with a penchant for shady roles Vincent Cassel (Mesrine) co-stars as Franck, a professional art thief. The desperate Simon goes to Franck who pays his debt if Simon will heist a Goya masterpiece. Simon agrees. Everything goes according to plan, but at the last second Simon decides to hit Franck with a taser in a supposed change of heart. He is hailed as a hero by his firm but Franck is on to him. It appears Simon can't remember where the painting is if his life depended on it.

Wanting to settle the score, Simon goes to Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) a beautiful hypnotherapist, in the hopes to remember the location of the masterwork. Elizabeth is more than a little dominant and it doesn't take long for Simon (and Franck) to become smitten and start drooling. 

The action of the plot is told in many flashbacks and  vignettes that go forward and backward in time with such frequency that it gets a bit confusing. Are Elizabeth and Simon working together or alone? Is Franck the bad guy or is Simon an obsessive monster? And perhaps it is all a dominating power trip by Elizabeth? There are many kinks and quirks in explanation that snap at you just when you might think all is clear, but despite all the wiggly wonderings, director Boyle's palate is so colorful with his usual hip and hyper camera moves that you never feel put upon. 

McAvoy is terrific as a capable but somewhat passive auction exec who just might be a jilted and hard bitten antihero in an overstimulated yet emotionally sterile world.

Boyle uses the noir technique of sour desperation and infuses it with his own vocabulary of jagged colors, lopsided perspectives and squirming digitized icons and fractals. Now in the 21st century, the film noir condition of a broken heart in a shadowed room is now read and measured with an iPad. "Trance" is as much an awareness of new technology in our intimate lives as it is a jittery neon spin on the precious storied shadows of James M. Cain.

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