Couch Critic: TranceIn Brief
The actors do their best with a hollow and misdirected screenplay, but all the stylish trappings, adrenaline sequences, and prismatic cinematography can’t jump-start a heart where there is none.
The biggest mistake that director Danny Boyle makes in Trance is that he doesn’t decide what he wants it to be. Is it a heist movie full of action and bad techno music? Is it a twisted love story replete with orchestral flourishes meant to elicit an emotional response? Is it a psychological what-the-hell-is-going on thriller complemented by erratic, grating, spacey trip-pop? (If you’re noticing a trend here it’s that the music was tastelessly awful.) Or is it a sloppy mess of all the above, like a Vanilla Sky, Inception, Nolan-wannabe Italian Job? For my money, it’s “all the above.”
While the film is busy staggering through trance sequences and back to what is thought to be the characters’ real lives, the audience is being pushed further and further away. In an entertainment experience where one of the main elements is “gotcha” moments, a viewer tends to remain at a distance lest they be the fool. And that’s what Trance does for its entirety. There is no redeeming character development and nothing to get behind. Nothing to keep we, the audience, on board. The white rabbit is leading us down a hole, but we keep peeking back to the theater door because there is nothing here to care about. There is no protagonist and no discernable cause for the effects.
The motives of the characters are poorly constructed and their responses in the final scenes are odd and lacking foundation. Ultimately, the choice of slyly revealed plot details is a poor one. Differing perspectives on the characters might have given this messy movie more heart and made the “big reveal” more sensical. Instead, too much is left to unpack in the final act and there is a sugar-high-like emptiness at the outcome.