TRANCE review

Starring: James McAvoy (Wanted), Vincent Cassel (Black Swan), Rosario Dawson (Sin City)

Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

Writers: Joe Ahearne and John Hodge (Trainspotting)

Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes

Release Date: 27 March (UK), 5 April (US)

From the director of such classics as Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire, Trance is a strange blend of psychological thriller, heist film and a little dab of sci-fi. Does it all add up to something ingenious, or is it a cluttered mess?


Trance is a film with many layers, constantly unravelling new elements and details to the point of confusion. What starts as a heist film reminiscent of The Thomas Crown Affair eventually enters the realm of films like Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film has an impatient pace, going from slow-burn to high-octane and back again. Whilst it does match with the whole theme the film is going for, it does add to the confusion. The film constantly switches between the real world and Simon (McAvoy)’s mind but, unlike Inception which makes it very clear, Trance keeps the line between fantasy and reality very loose which creates a strong feeling of paranoia and suspense. It does unfortunately lead to those “it was all just a dream” moments several times, which works to mixed affect. The big twist of the film (which I obviously won’t spoil) works at first and makes sense, but a later reveal kinda ruined it for me. The film even has an open ending very similar to Inception, but it lacks the weight and surprise of the one in that superior film.

The film has a very small central cast and they fulfil their roles well. McAvoy takes an even more drastic leap than he did in Welcome to the Punch; here, he plays a character who is much more complex and shady than anything he’s ever played before, often bordering on psychotic. Cassel plays it very cool as usual, but never looses the intimidating quality his character requires. This is arguably Dawson’s best role in years; her character is also very complicated and tragic, but I can’t say much more than that without spoiling things. The rest of the cast is pretty inconsequential; they are there to serve their purpose in the story and don’t do much else memorable. But the central characters are intriguing enough that you don’t really notice.

Boyle is a director who has a very strong visual flair but always adapts it to his material and doesn’t let it get in the way of the story. The same is true of Trance. The film is full of bright, saturated colours and make frequent use of the Dutch angle, further increasing the bizarre nature of the film.

Trance is definetly one of Boyle’s weaker films, but is still worth a watch for the performances and certain aspects of the story. The film feels lacking in certain areas, mainly due to an ending that I don’t think gels with the proceeding film. Hopefully Boyle’s next project will be much closer in quality to some of his previous works.


Author: Jennifer Heaton

Aspiring screenwriter, film critic, pop culture fanatic and perpetual dreamer.

One thought on “TRANCE review”

  1. You know, it really lacked character development. The plot was the character development, and that just didn’t work.

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