"}
Film

Trance

Danny Boyle gets trippy

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Danny Boyle has made three of my favorite films of the last 20 years Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, and 127 Hours. I’d put his new one, Trance, a notch below them, but only a notch.

This exhilarating brain-twister is a nonstop visual, aural and intellectual delight, steeped in movie conventions and yet fizzing with freshness. It’s what happens when film noir goes out to a rave.

Don’t learn too much about it before you see it. I’ll limit myself to giving away only what happens in the opening minutes. Simon (James McAvoy) is a security guard at a London auction house that is selling a Goya painting for £27 million ($41 million) when an art thief named Franck (Vincent Cassel) bursts in and seizes the painting.

Or so he thinks: Actually, the canvas has gone missing and only Simon knows where it is. Except Simon can’t remember, having sustained a head blow during the robbery that has left him with amnesia. Enter an expert hypnotist, Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) who can unbury any memory. Though maybe not this one.

The dazzling script by Joe Ahearne and Boyle’s frequent collaborator John Hodge has more surprises in its first 20 minutes than most films can manage in 100, but each sharp turn merely inspires Boyle to stomp harder on the pedal. Who will get the painting? Who will get the girl? Who will get half a skull blown off and just keep talking?

Trance, a title that refers to the hypnotic state several characters descend into as well as the dance music that urges the movie forward and the helpless awe in which Boyle held me throughout, has a plot similar to that of Boyle’s sinister 1994 tale of a greed triangle, Shallow Grave. But this time Boyle projects it through an Inception-style prism of subconscious fantasy. The Christopher Nolan film, though, was operatically ponderous, brooding about its own genius to the point where the audience had to clear its throat and ask, “Remember us?” Trance is pure entertainment, no study guide required.

Via the hypnotist, various characters slip in and out of fantasyland, and though I revile the way writers (particularly on television dramas) use dream sequences to eat up a couple of minutes of screen time on a cheap shock that winds up being meaningless, in Trance the characters learn essential truths by exploring their subconscious minds. Details (such as car keys) that seem meaningless keep coming back to play important roles, and to link different levels of consciousness Boyle ingeniously uses the iPad in what I believe is a new role for it in movies, one that a thousand other directors will imitate.

Boyle makes everything seem as fresh as the iPad because his great subject is youth—not, as with Steven Spielberg, childhood; the innocence of Millions, Boyle’s 2004 attempt at a fairy tale, didn’t quite convince, and he hasn’t returned to the genre. (Boyle’s next film is called Porno.)

A newspaper headline in Trance refers to Simon as the “have-a-go” hero of the art heist: That’s Boyle, perpetual chancer, always having a go. What’s it like to get hooked on heroin? Steal the prettiest girl in India from gangsters? Hop into a gorge? Let’s have a go.

We don’t learn a lot about Simon except that he’s young, but that’s really all we need to know. Boyle’s all about the race to the next rush, the completely unjustified confidence, the addiction to crazy: youth. It’s an inexhaustible well, and may Boyle never stop dunking his bucket in it. This is ecstatic cinema, the brightest, brassiest, buzziest film of the year so far.

Ticket Cascadia
More Film...
Southside With You
Barack gets the girl

A 20-something woman living at home prepares for a day out. Her parents tease her as she fixes her hair. Is it a date? No, just a work associate, a Harvard law student with the firm for the summer, taking her to a community meeting to discuss “broken faucets and underfunded schools.”…

more »
Hell or High Water
Making them like they used to

Oh, they do not make heartland crime dramas like they did back in the ’70s—smart, ornery, low of budget and high of attitude. Steeped in seedy characters and lousy luck. Above all lacking in the least amount of body fat, moral or cinematic.

Two-Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point, Badlands.

more »
Florence Foster Jenkins
The flat lady sings

Perhaps she was a tragic figure, or a clinical case worthy of Oliver Sacks, or the incarnation of a dishonest middlebrow culture. But in the end, Stephen Frears’s enjoyable, sentimental movie turns this bizarre real-life figure into a version of Eddie the Eagle, swooping and crashing…

more »
Events
Today
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Discover Birch Bay Days

10:00am|Birch Bay Drive

A Swinging Weekend

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Chuckanut Classic

6:30am|Boundary Bay Brewery

Veterans Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Post 1585

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Run to Fight Blindness

9:00am|Cascadia Eye

Marsh Mucking

10:00am|Tennant Lake Interpretive Center

Anacortes Open Streets

11:00am|Commercial Avenue

International Concert Series Finale

2:00pm|Peace Arch Provincial Park

Cirque Literary Journal Reading

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Chuckanut Writers Info Session

4:00pm|Village Books,

Sunday Night Fusion

7:00pm|Presence Studio

Northwood Steak and Crab Swinomish 2016
Tomorrow
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

We Grow Market

3:00pm|Northwest Youth Services

Music Enrichment Project Meet and Greet

4:00pm|Piper Music

Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books

Get Out More Tour

7:30pm|Backcountry Essentials

Poetrynight

8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Guffawingham

9:30pm|Green Frog

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books
Tuesday
Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Hiking Basics

6:00pm|REI

Final History Sunset Cruise

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Final BIFT

6:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Amnesty International Meeting

7:00pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Artifacts Wine Bar Bellingham Farmer’s Market Andrew Subin Swinomish 2016 Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Northwood Steak and Crab