Danny Boyle’s psychosexual maze mystery Trance is one of those films in which no one is quite what he first seems and the fun comes from watching the onion layers of identity gradually peeled back to reveal what’s really going on underneath. As a suspense film, it has its moments, but it’s unnecessarily muddled in places and presented with such kinetic editing and stacked structures that one can never settle in with the characters or the story. It’s a jumping bean of a movie that frustrates as much as it entertains.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 41 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraVioletkeep case with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 07/23/2013
As an employee at Delaney’s auction house, Simon (James McAvoy) has been taught what to do with valuable artworks should a robbery occur during an auction. When one does occur, Simon is cracked on the head by the leader of the robbers, Franck (Vincent Cassel), and thus loses his memory of what he actually did with the £27 million Goya painting he was guarding. He’s later forced by the robbers to go to a hypnotherapist named Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) in an attempt to unlock the hiding place buried deep within his memory, but sessions with Lamb reveal more than either Simon, Elizabeth, Franck, or the henchmen imagined.
The Production Rating: 3/5
The script by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge is chock-a-block with revelations inside revelations changing constantly what we know or what we thought we knew about the robbery and the cast of characters involved with it. As Simon drifts in and out of his hypnotic dreams (or are they dreams? one is never quite sure until the end), the viewer learns to mistrust almost everything that’s presented on screen so that one’s rooting interest for one character or another is destroyed, and by the end the film has become more of an academic exercise in film construction and the art of misdirection rather than a complexly entertaining and involving conundrum (for one that works, see Christopher Nolan’s Inception). Neither the writers nor director Danny Boyle manages to juggle all of the visions and dreams to prevent the middle sections from bogging down in their own murky messiness (it’s a director’s and editor’s field day, however, as it’s brazenly put together with multiple visual layers folding in on one another in Doyle’s most sophisticated style). Things clear up by the end when we finally see all the puzzle pieces falling into place, but even the climactic showdown between the three principals contains its ludicrous and unsatisfying elements (to say more would spoil surprises built into the scenario).
Though the writers and director seem to feel that they did a great job disguising the film’s strongest character, they’re deluding themselves as this character to a sharp observer never quite manages to obscure the power being masked by feigning vulnerability. All three leads – James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, and Vincent Cassel – definitely carry off their roles professionally though spotty writing makes Cassel’s Franck the least fully rounded of the three. Since we’re never shown Dawson’s actual technique of putting her patients under hypnosis, we must take it for granted she’s a genius at her profession, and a series of seduction scenes with the two men finds her completely nude on several occasions.
The transfer has been framed at the theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The film’s sharpness shifts constantly from razor-edged to soft, sometimes suggesting the dream states that Simon is undergoing but sometimes for no known reason. Brightness is sometimes a bit too much, and contrast is likewise all over the place resulting in an image that never seems quite all that it could be. Color is sustained well with believable flesh tones for the most part. Black levels are fine. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is a most sophisticated affair featuring the almost constant presence of Rick Smith’s driving, pulsating music through the entire soundstage. Interesting things have been done with Rosario Dawson’s voice as she guides James McAvoy through his hypnotic sessions: the vocals often come from somewhere other than the center channel and have been manipulated to fluctuate from a dynamic silky smooth cadence to a distant purr quite effectively. Otherwise, the dialogue is rooted to the center channel. Sound effects are quite dynamic when they occur, but the music and the dialogue most definitely are the key components of this sound mix.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Deleted Scenes (16:33, HD): seven scenes which can also be viewed individually.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
The Power of Suggestion – Making Trance (33:59, HD) a thorough behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production featuring interviews with the three key stars, director Danny Boyle, producer Christian Colson, and writer John Hodge along with contributions from the movie’s production designer, costume designer, editor, sound recordist, director of photography, and the hypnotherapy technical advisor.
Danny Boyle: A Retrospective (14:56, HD): the director gives a rundown of the films he’s made through the auspices of Fox Searchlight: A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach, 28 Days Later, Millions, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, and Trance.
Eugene (13:07, HD): a short film by Spemcer Susser which finds the title character coming into the possession of a magic lamp laptop.
Theatrical Trailer (1:22, HD)
Trance Unraveled (6:01, HD): an Easter Egg found in the top right hand corner of the main menu which puts the real events of the narrative in chronological order.
Promo Trailers (HD): The Wolverine, Stoker, The East, Carrie, Hitchcock.
Trance holds some surprises but may be a bit too clever for its own good failing to make any of its characters necessarily appealing and occasionally falling victim to its own murky plotting. The Blu-ray offers superb sound and an above average visual presentation along with some bonus features which do sort out the labyrinthine plot for those who found it tough to follow.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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