Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Trance (5 Stars)

I promised in my review of "127 Hours" that I would watch "Trance" soon. I always keep my promises, as far as my blog is concerned, though sometimes it takes me months or even years to get round to it. Five days is very reasonable for me, much faster than usual. How long have I been promising to continue with my Leelee Sobieski marathon? Or my Dean McKendrick marathon? And then there's my 50 favourite films that I want to watch in order, or rather in reverse order.

Simon Newton (James McAvoy) is an auctioneer at an elite auction house in London. Unfortunately he's addicted to gambling and is thousands of pounds in debt. Like all bad gamblers, whenever he loses money he makes bigger bets in the hope of wiping out all his losses in one lucky game, but his credit isn't good enough to keep on betting bigger and bigger amounts forever. He gives a criminal gang inside information about the auction of "Witches in the Air", a painting by Francisco Goya, worth more than £20 million.

On the day of the robbery Simon has an unexpected change of heart and hides the painting before it can be stolen. He runs out of the building and is hit by a car. When he returns home from hospital a few days later he's suffering from amnesia. He can remember everything except where he put the painting. The gang kidnaps and tortures him for hours before they finally believe that he really has amnesia. They hire a hypnotist, Elisabeth Bank (Rosario Dawson), to help him retrieve his memory. Despite her skills it takes longer than expected for Simon to remember, so she demands that she be made an equal member of the gang before she continues. Grudgingly they accept her, and the hypnotherapy continues.

But as the film continues we discover that there are multiple layers of deception. The hypnotist has previously had affairs with both Simon and the gang boss, and she's playing a game of her own.

Overall this film isn't rated as highly as Danny Boyle's other films, but a few critics have praised it very highly, going as far as to call it the film of the year (2013). After reading a few reviews it seems that everybody either loves it or hates it, there's no middle ground. I love it.  The plot weaves and turns in the second half of the film without making it too difficult to understand. The film has been criticised for having almost no women in it apart from Elisabeth (the only other woman with a speaking role is mistaken for Elisabeth), but I don't see that as a problem. On the contrary, it lifts the film to a level of feminist artistry rarely seen in cinema. This one woman in a seemingly all-male world rises above the men around her, conquering them with her intelligence and her beauty.

This is truly a wonderful film. If anyone doesn't like it he should watch it again. If he still doesn't like it he should carry on watching it until he finally gets it.

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