Nerdlocker Movie Review: Trance



The more films that Danny Boyle puts out the more I become a fan. It’s been slow, but ever since I saw Sunshine I’ve been trying to watch everything he makes. I recently saw his new heist thriller, Trance. This is not his best film, but it is definitely one to check out. It seems to have a bit of everything, and with Boyle’s direction it’s shown in a very unique but coherent way. It’s a love story, heist thriller, revenge drama and so much more. Much like The Place Beyond The Pines trailer, the trailer for Trance really only scratches the surface of what it is really about. It’s a smart, fast paced thriller that demands your attention if you hope to follow along.

The story is confusing and in depth but worth the attention it requires. It’s about an art auctioneer named Simon (James McAvoy). Part of Simon’s job is to keep extremely valuable art safe from theft. There is a procedure when an attempt is made for the art and when it finally happens his training takes over and he does what he’s supposed to do. His first priority is getting the painting out of the area and into a protective bag. He then, along with guards, transfers the painting to a drop box that leads to a safe where it will remain until the attempted robbery is over. On his way to the drop box he is stopped by a robber holding a shotgun. The employees are told to keep the art safe but to also never be a hero. Simon ignores this and attempts to subdue the thief but fails and is met with a blow to the head from the butt end of the shotgun. It is a fierce blow and he must go to the hospital for emergency surgery to relieve pressure in his skull.


After a time in the hospital he goes home to learn the crap just keeps piling up. His apartment has been ransacked. We quickly learn that Simon is not the innocent hero he is made out to be but, in fact, is a partner to the criminals who stole the painting. Well, when the thieves open the bag they discover an empty frame and suspect that Simon stole the painting for himself. They then find Simon and, in a gruesome fashion, torture him for the location of the painting. Blaming the blow to the head as the reason for his partial amnesia they must find an alternative means of finding the painting. They come up with the idea of taking him to a hypnotherapist who can hopefully “unlock” his repressed memory of where he hid the art. Easier said than done I’m afraid.

From the start it’s obvious this will not be an easy or quick process; the mind is a complicated map to navigate and must be done so with care. Almost immediately the therapist knows something is wrong and confronts the thieves, proposing a partnership to find the location of the painting. Having no choice they agree and she begins her therapy on Simon. The more she works with him the more his dark secrets come to light. As time goes on we see that the thieves are the murderous types and very obviously the bad guys… or are they? Things progress in ways that makes one look at every character with doubt and fear. Is everyone in this for the reasons they say? Do the thieves really just want the painting? Does the therapist really just want a cut of the money? Is Simon really forgetting everything or is he repressing more than he could have ever imagined? Why, who, what and where are very predominant questions layered throughout the story and the big reveal is something no one will see coming. Be skeptical of everything you see because sometimes the line between reality and hypnosis can be blurred to a horrific extent. No one is what they seem and no one is innocent in this. What starts out as a simple enough heist turns into murder, deceit and revenge. Pay close attention, you just might miss something.


It’s a familiar plot filled with truly unique aspects thrown in to create one hell of a ride. We have all seen the heist movies, Ocean’s 11, The Score and the like. This takes that concept and flips it on its head. This film is out to throw you off kilter and does so with expertise through great story, acting and direction from Mr. Boyle. With a killer cast featuring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson this is a wonderfully executed, complicated script and shines in its complexity. It’s a drama that makes you think and ponder the circumstances playing out in front of you. In its big reveal it transforms itself into a much more in-depth story than it already was. The emotions and actions of these characters have weight to them and consequences, whether good or bad befall on them, no matter what. Mostly it’s all bad; death and betrayal are rampant. If you like an exciting thrill ride for the thinking man (or woman), or you’re simply a Danny Boyle fan than check out Trance. I tried to stay as vague as possible while still giving you an idea of its plot and characters involved. If you want to know more you will have to see it for yourself. A definite bonus to seeing this is watching the very lovely Rosario Dawson do her… thing, as they say.

Check out the trailer:

Rated R for: sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language
Runtime: 101 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Danny Sapani
Directed By: Danny Boyle

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4 / Acting: 4 / Directing: 4.5 / Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard

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