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Trance (2013)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/23/2013

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/24/2013

Over the years, I've mentioned that when it comes to a film's credits, I'm more concerned with who is behind the camera. Given that, I can easily name my favorite directors -- the ones that I like and know that I like. However, I occasionally realize that I've slowly grown to admire a director who wasn't one of my obvious choices. Danny Boyle certainly falls into this category. Obviously, Trainspotting was hard to ignore, but I hated 28 Days Later. It was the trifecta of Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire, and 127 Hours which really made me notice what a keen visual director Boyle is. So, I couldn't help by wonder if Trance would continue this trend.

James McAvoy stars in Trance as Simon, an employee at an art auction house. He and the rest of the staff have been meticulously trained on what to do in the event of a robbery. When a rare painting by Goya goes on sale, a group of thugs lead by Franck (Vincent Cassel) attempt to steal it. Simon follows protocol and is about to secure the painting, when he is confronted by Franck who hits Simon in the head and takes the Goya. Following this, we learn several important facts; Simon was actually part of the gang and in on the robbery; Franck didn't get away with the painting, as Simon hid it; and the blow to the head caused Simon to forget where he hid the painting. As one would imagine, Simon is furious about this, but Simon can't recall where he stashed the art. He is taken to see hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) in hopes that she can help him remember where the painting is. However, Elizabeth is quite clever and quickly realizes that Simon is in some kind of trouble. Her interference and insistence on being involved will create a dynamic between herself, Simon, and Franck which will lead to a very dangerous game.

Say what you will about Danny Boyle, but the man isn't shy about trying new genres. With 28 Days Later, he tackled zombie horror. Sunshine was his (not very original) stab at science-fiction. He mixed a world movie with Bollywood flair in Slumdog Millionaire. And 127 Hours was a harrowing, but trippy survival tales. With Trance, Boyle is trying his hand at a Hitchcockian thriller, and it has all of the trappings of that sub-genre. We have an elaborate robbery, a love-triangle, psychological problems, backstabbings, and double-crosses. It's as if someone put many of Hitchcock's most memorable films, put them in a blender, and then splashed them onto modern-day London.

The issue with Trance is that there is a real struggle between the visuals and the story. Boyle almost goes overboard with the elaborate and artsy shots in this film. Simon is often shot through glass or in a reflection. His hypnotherapy sessions mix real-life with hallucinatory visuals and there are some very creative moments here where something in Simon's vision will suddenly reference another part of the movie or alert us to the fact that what we are seeing isn't real. Boyle clearly put a lot of work into shooting the film, but there were some scenes which could have benefited from simply being shot without this over-the-top style. As for the script, it takes an interesting idea and runs too far with it, as the story continuously folds over onto itself. There's a difference between offering twists and turns where the audience is constantly guessing what will happen next and changing the story over and over to the point where it's difficult to care. There's also a difference between a sad ending and an unsatisfying ending. Trance has an unsatisfying ending, as each character's demeanor and alliances suddenly change, leaving the viewer to feel that there was one too many twists.

So, as you can tell, Trance is a work at war with itself. Boyle immerses himself into true filmmaking here, as the film is a whirling dervish of visuals and a cacophony of sounds -- Boyle is taking everything in his sensory arsenal and throwing it at the audience. But, this comes at the expense of the story, which is needlessly convoluted and is focused so hard on being clever that it forgets to bring any true emotion with it. Trance is the sort of film which a home theater was made for, and while you'll be caught up in the first half of the story, that sensation won't last.

Trance shows us that criminals are using iPads on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, most notably reds and blues, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is excellent, as we can see the pores on the actor's faces. The image shows nice depth, as the characters are separate from the backgrounds. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Let's get this out of the way, this track has the loudest bass I've ever heard on a Blu-ray. During the robbery, the subwoofer kicks in and thumps for what seems like 10 minutes. The mix has been manipulated so that suddenly comes in and it's incredibly loud. It must be heard to be believed. Outside of that, this is a good track, as we get nice stereo and surround effects which display very detailed individual sounds and good separation.

The Trance Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "The Power of Suggestion" is a four-part making-of featurette which runs about 34-minutes total. It gives an in-depth look at the production, including the story and the characters. We get comments from Boyle and the cast, as well as a nice amount of on-set and behind-the-scenes footage. The piece looks at the production design and the costumes, as well as the camera-work and Boyle's style. The Disc contains seven DELETED SCENES which run about 17 minutes. These are actually all extended scenes, as they are all moments from the finished film with additional footage, so we get some more dialogue here, but not much more. "Danny Boyle Retrospective" (15 minutes) has the director giving an overview of his career, discussing each movie while clips play. (But because he's only looking at movie's made with Fox/Searchlight, Trainspotting isn't featured.) "Eugene" (13 minutes) is a short film by Spencer Susser (although we aren't told why it's on here). The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.