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He Said, She Said Review Site

Monster's University

What She said:


If it looks like a Danny Boyle flick and smells like a Danny Boyle flick, then it must be a Danny Boyle flick.  Trance has all the markings of a Boyle written and directed movie.  It is visually rich, playing with highs and lows on the screen, as well as rapid camera cuts and scene transitions.  And then we have the fast paced musical score, which adds intensity to the film and serves to move it along where it stalls.  The story alone oozes Danny Boyle—it’s twisted, somewhat convoluted, and yet interesting.  The viewer has to continually remind themselves to hang in there, because it goes without saying that there is more to this movie than meets the eye.

The film follows Simon, who seems like just your average guy working for an art auctioneer.  It’s his job to guarantee the security of the highly prized paintings that his art house sells.  Apparently, there’s been a bunch of art heists lately, and so there’s always a contingency plan in case someone tries to hold up the place during an auction, and Simon plays a key role in the plan.  Finally, the day comes; some thugs storm an auction involving a Goya painting worth millions.  Simon does his job perfectly, except he’s headed off before he’s able to drop the painting securely into a fault.  Uh oh.  Simon tries to confront the bad guy and gets whacked in the head.  He wakes up with very little recollection of the events, and finds out that the painting is full-on missing.  The bad guys don’t have it and the good guys don’t have it. 

Simon is pressured by the bad guys to try to remember where the painting is.  They enlist the assistance of a hypnotherapist to try to restore Simon’s memory.  Thus begins the process of bringing back bits and pieces of useful information.

Ok, so I’ll admit I left a lot of things out in this plot description.  There’s way more going on than you realize.  Basically, everybody is a bad person, including Simon and the hypnotherapist Dr. Elizabeth Lamb.  I actually found it disappointing as the movie went on to realize that no one is really that nice.  I was kind of hoping that there’d be someone that I could root for.  And yet, I’m not annoyed by this.  Danny Boyle manages to make it work, because he made the characters super complex, almost too complex.  Each character is like an onion, with many, many layers. 


I think the acting was very strong in this movie.  James McAvoy as Simon, Rosario Dawson as Elizabeth, and Vincent Cassel as Franck were your leads.  They all did very well, and added intensity and urgency to the plot.  As I mentioned before, this movie is visually appealing and Boyle does good work with his cinematography and sound. 

Now to the downsides, the story got so complex and interwoven that it was very hard to follow.  At a certain point I just gave up, knowing that eventually things would be explained but also frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what the hey was going on.  All I knew was that there was more happening than I realized.  I do like to have to figure things out, but not this much.  Things were so twisted that I felt like I was actually taking a shot in the dark when I made a guess.  Also, there were a few sexually explicit things that I did not appreciate.  Yeah, yeah, it’s art, but I never really go for that stuff when I find it gratuitous, which I sort of did in this case.  It just makes me uncomfortable and I wanted to hide by eyes or exit the room.  Fortunately, these scenes are fairly brief.

I like the culmination of the film.  Again, it feels very Danny Boyle.  He seemed to tie up all the major loose ends but honestly, there were so many that there were probably things that he glossed over.  Still, I have to admit that what was really going on was pretty clever.

It’s certainly not Boyle’s best, but Trance is a decent movie.  I can recommend it, but certainly not for families.

Thumbs mostly up.

What He said:


Simon (James McAvoy) works for an art dealer. I was never totally sure what his official job was – the plot description says auctioneer, but he seems more like security – but he works at a high-end auction house nonetheless. His job – should a robbery occur – is to take the priceless works of art and deliver them to a secure location. He’ s not to worry about the thieves, his coworkers, just the art.

Well it’s a good thing his employer recently implemented this new policy, because they’re about to get robbed. Everything appears to be going well, Simon is about to deliver the goods, until he is stopped by one of the thieves. Franck (Vincent Cassel) stops Simon right before he’s about to deliver the arts to the secure location within the auction house. Simon attacks Franck, but is eventually overcome and knocked out by Franck.

He awakens in a hospital and is hailed a hero. What exactly for, I do not know, because the painting he was protecting is gone. Well it turns out Franck and his crew doesn’t have it either and he isn’t very happy about that. He ends up kidnapping Simon and torturing him to get the location of the painting out of him. Well Franck must have hit Simon pretty hard, because Simon doesn’t remember. After concluding that Simon really does have amnesia, Franck sends him to a hypnotherapist. Her name is Elizabeth Lamb (played by Rosario Dawson).

That’s about all I can tell you about the storyline without giving too much away. This is a crime drama, but also a psychological thriller, so there’s a lot happening, and frankly if I talked about it too much I’d spoil the movie for you.
I can say whether I liked the movie or not. It started off a little slow, but after a while it started to get my interest. The movie really doesn’t unfold until close to the end of the movie, so it keeps you hanging on. At first I found that kind of boring, because it seemed like nothing was happening, but I warmed up to it as the movie went on. It did eventually come around.

The movie is very trippy. A lot of Danny Boyle movies are. His movies often take place in a very realistic world, but he bends reality with trippy dream sequences, drug-induced hallucinations, or something else along those lines. This movie was no different in that sense. The visuals were not a problem for me.


The music was, which is also another Danny Boyle staple. He likes to introduce very loud music in his movies. Sometimes it fuels the emotion, which is exactly what a good soundtrack should do. Other times, I find it has the opposite effect and can actually be quite distracting. Having seen several of his movies, and knowing there are going to be scenes like this, I feel like Boyle just does it because he likes it; regardless of whether it actually fits the scene or not. I really do like a good soundtrack. I find a good musical score can really enhance the viewing experience. It can magnify the emotion the character are feeling and even does at times in this movie. But it can also detract from the experience and Boyle’s overuse of this style has worn on me his last several movies. Boyle goes out of his way to blast obnoxious, loud, and sometimes really unpleasant music in your face and it gets on my nerves sometimes.

The acting was fine. I didn’t have a single problem with any of the main or supporting actors. They all played the parts just fine. Rosario Dawson was maybe a little wooden at times, but I didn’t find it distracting or overwhelming.

Overall, this is a decent movie. I didn’t like his last movie (127 Hours) and was curious to see how I’d feel about this one. Not bad, but not great either. If you like Danny Boyle, it is worth checking out.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on December 22, 2013.