Trance

Trance had a very good concept, a great beginning and First Act, and ended off with a bang and a satisfying/gratifying payoff. However, it suffers from the it-would-had-been-a-better-short-film syndrome: the whole Second Act just came to a screeching stop. Writers Joe Ahearne and John Hodge just could not find enough interesting material to make it all engaging. The Intro and the First Act set up the main plot very nicely and quickly, and the intro was arresting and visually engaging, but then after that everything basically halts and everybody, audience, included is just waiting. Waiting...and waiting. Danny Boyle does a great job with the non-linear storytelling and the obfuscation to distract the audience attention. He uses some nifty angles, close-ups and edits to enhance the psychological aspect of this crime heist/psychological thriller. And if you pay close enough attention to the little acts that the cast do, the clues to the ending are abound, but also partially because of the lapse in attention span caused by the catatonic Second Act one just start picking up more things and the mind wanders back to the beginning to try to figure out who is the real con. Thankfully, the Third Act was a nail-biting, adrenaline pumping avalanche of reveals, twists, cons and double cons that culminated, together with Boyle's dizzying and fluid direction and a heart pounding score by Rick Smith, in a explosive ending. And thankfully the epilogue was not a retcon, but instead tied up some of the loose ends. The script also leads us to meditate on the meaning of evil, or to a lesser effect, what makes a man (or woman) good or bad? And James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson were admirable in portraying the various faces of their characters with aplomb. McAvoy's vanishing Scottish accent and Cassel's French-accented English were rather distracting, but other than that both men were great. McAvoy had a more complicated, not complex, character to play and he relayed the confusion, desperation, fear, anger, love and despair expressedly; Cassel, on the other hand, brought a certain warmth and charm to the rough rouge that he first appeared as and slowly wins the audience over. And then there is Dawson, in a revealing and brave role. She started off bland and a bit of an enigma, but steadily Dawson creates this character that seemed to be both vulnerable and a downright bitch. The middle section was supposed to showcase these transitional phases of the characters, but the plotting itself could have been better and the scenes crafted tighter.

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