I will have nightmares – Trance

Trance - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Trance – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Trance (2013)

Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Stars: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel

You know how there are films, actors, directors, etc, that people keep telling you are extraordinary and you definitely need to see their films? Yea, me too. I’m usually the one telling people that they MUST watch this or that for reasons I can never verbalise in person without deteriorating into complete nerd state (yes high-pitched squealing included). Danny Boyle is one of those directors who I’ve heard the name of in different scenarios and people have raved about. And so when Trance was realised I was excited because, you know, Danny Boyle directed it; and James McAvoy is in it; and it’s sci-fi thriller; it’s right up my twisted alley. But five minutes into the film I remembered what Boyle was famous for: Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire and the London Olympics. Two films that, although are cinematically and narratively brilliant, I never wanted to watch a second time.  And Trance is another one of those films. I shall put it into my box of “Films I’ll never watch again” along with 2001: A Space Odyssey, Vanilla Sky, A Clockwork Orange, and a whole array of others.

Trance is about Simon (McAvoy) who is an art auctioneer at a reputable auction house in London. He teams up with criminal Frank (Vincent Cassel) to steal a painting to repay his gambling debts. But he gets knocked out, forgets where he put the painting and so Frank is a bit cranky at Simon. Who wouldn’t be if you’d just lost $25mil? Their solution to recovering Simon’s memory is to send him to a hypnotherapist. Coz that is always the answer. The hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) they choose at random ends up being a little more than expected. And so begins the trippy adventure. Trance is comparable to Inception in that you never really know whether the scene you are witnessing is real or part of the hypnotherapy. But it does grab you and yanks you along through the confusion and delusion of Simon to recover the events of what happened to the lost painting.

James McAvoy has this wonderful but eery ability to make you like Simon even when you find out what kind of person he is. He  captures the character so flawlessly that when the twisted world unravels it’s hard to believe. McAvoy is perfection in this role as you want him to get away with it even at the end. Rosario Dawson is also the perfect fit for her role as the hypnotherapist as she portrays a smartness and power that is hard to do, especially when using sexual power to manipulate. The slow reveal of the truth with Danny Boyle’s shifty, unfocused cinematic craft gives this film a very dark feel and doesn’t leave you with a happy ending. The film unveils the narrative in a clever form, using the cuts and glimpses, the voice-over and soundtrack, to produce a thriller that keeps you guessing until the end.

I probably won’t rave about this film because there were parts of it that were visually disturbing – I think Boyle has issues with bodily functions and probably needs therapy – but it was a thrilling ride.

3/5

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Drama, Drugs & Devotion – London

London - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

London – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Drama, Drugs & Devotion – London (2005)

Director: Hunter Richards
Writer: Hunter Richards
Stars: Jessica Biel, Chris Evans and Jason Statham

I tend to go through phases of watching a particular actor’s films because I become obsessed with them and this week with the Avengers coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray, I have chosen Chris Evans as my obsession. I really hadn’t watched much of Chris Evans before Captain America but going back and watching bits and pieces of his career has been interesting. He’s done some not so great films but he’s also done some surprisingly good films. London is one of the good ones in my mind.

It’s a drama centred around Syd (Chris Evans) who is a bit of a druggie – cocaine mostly – and who is trying to win back the love of his life, London (Jessica Biel), who is about to move away and start her life with her new guy. He meets Bateman (Jason Statham) the day of her going away party, which he wasn’t invited to, and takes him along. The film then consists of flash backs of London & Syd’s relationship and Syd and Bateman in the bathroom of her best friend, Rebecca’s (Isla Fisher) parents house and their discussion of life, relationships, religion, and where things went wrong. It is a gripping film as you are drawn into these men’s lives with little prior knowledge about them and as their friendship as strangers grows you see how it is they came to be at this point in their lives. Evans shows a different side to his acting as he portrays the tormented soul of this grown man and standing next to Statham doing the same is something I didn’t think I’d ever see, and they are both incredibly brilliant. It has actually made me think of them as actors rather than action movie stars. They show depth to their characters and are able to capture a great deal of emotion and convince you that these men are so much more than you just see on screen. They are brilliantly directed by Hunter Richards, also the writer, and the film delivers a unique look into this world. Biel and Fisher are also brilliant in this film and ground the narrative.

I really liked this film and I really loved Evans and Statham in these different roles. They are brilliant action stars but it is great to know they can really, truly act. I really recommend seeing this film, it’s edgy and different and is able to deal with big questions of life and love in a bathroom with Van Gogh and Cocaine. Go watch it.