From a script by Joe Ahearne and reportedly doctored by TRAINSPOTTING genius, John Hodge, TRANCE has the syncopated rhythms of that aforementioned film, especially in its use of voiceover. You can almost imagine the “Choose Life” speech fitting in perfectly. The evocative and constant use of music takes a page from the DRIVE handbook. Boyle plays with stories within stories and mixes filmmaking technologies seamlessly. In the hypnosis scenes, he switches points of view and inserts characters into memories to constantly keep you guessing as to what is real and what’s not.
I was reminded quite a bit of SIDE EFFECTS, Steve Soderbergh’s pulp thriller genre exercise from earlier this year. Both directors seem to be having a bit of fun instead of making some passion project. While not entirely plot heavy, TRANCE peels back layer after layer to finally expose the “real” and sad story underneath it all.
At the heart of this are wonderfully engaging performances by McAvoy, who brings the right amount of sweetness Ewan McGregor usually brings to Boyle’s films, Vincent Cassel, as an incredibly soulful head thief, and especially Dawson, who shows a heap-ton of command and range. She’s ferocious, interesting, unpredictable and in one startling shot, literally naked. Filled with Boyle’s usual narrative and cinematic tricks and with frequent collaborator, the great cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, providing one sleek image after the other, TRANCE is best remembered for giving Dawson the richly deserved lead performance we’ve been waiting for, and as such, it’s worth the price of admission alone.
Glenn Gaylord is an award-winning Writer/Director/Producer and graduate of the UCLA School of Film and Television.