Review: Trance (2013)

trance 2013 movie poster

“The memory is not destroyed, it is locked in a cage, and with enough force, enough violence, the lock can be broken. It comes back, the memory, not completely, not entirely, but enough to drive you, to make you feel you have been cheated, enough to make you angry.”
– Elizabeth

Simon Newton (James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer, trained to attempt to remove painting should a heist take place, though not to put his life on the line. His training is tested one day when a group of men break into the auction house and attempt to steal the painting. In the attempt to evacuate the painting, Simon runs into a man names Franck (Vincent Cassel) and attempts to stun him, which fails. Being savagely smacked on the head with a gun, Simon is out while Franck makes off with an expensive piece of art.

trance franck robbed
“No piece of art is worth a human life.” – Simon Newton

Simon wakes in the hospital, wanting to return home, but knowing that his life is screwed. Franck is looking for him, wanting to know why his inside man went through with another script. Franck is furious to find that the stolen piece of art is not in the canvas that Simon was trying to evacuate, and pays his colleague a visit. Tortured by Franck’s people, Simon continually claims that he has no knowledge of the whereabouts of the painting. Franck tells Simon to pick a hypnotist at random, desperate to discover the location of the painting, knowing that it is in Simon’s head somewhere. Simon chooses Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) and sets off to see her, wired to transmit his session back to Franck and his men.

“I was really good, but not good enough. And not good enough really isn’t very good.” – Simon Newton

Elizabeth soon realizes that there is more going on than “lost keys” after she looks into Simon, and makes it clear in the next session that she wants to help him. She meets with Franck and his crew and together they work on a way to try and crack his mind. Many things are tested and failing. Franck and Elizabeth soon start a relationship, which will naturally complicate things as Elizabeth is building a rapport with Simon, and suggests to Franck that she start seeing him romantically and sleep with him in an attempt to lull him into a false sense of security as well as reveal the location of the painting. However, something seems strange, and the relationship between Simon and Elizabeth seems to go back more than just his most recent visit to her as a hypnotist, which others notice though Simon does not.

simon trance
“To be yourself you have to constantly remember yourself.” – Elizabeth Lamb

Will they be able to recover the secrets locked in Simon’s mind? Will Simon ever get over his paranoia that Franck is just going to get the location from Simon and then kill him? Will he ever let Elizabeth in, and love her completely? Will the painting reappear, and will Simon ever get his life back? Will anyone figure out who is double crossing who?

I would score Trance a 7/10. I enjoyed it, quite a bit, even with multiple viewings. The film kept you guessing, but not the deep “I really need to know immediately” kind of guessing. The film had times where you were not sure which scenes were dreams, which were trance, which were memories and which were reality, which actually worked really well, joinging you up with Simon. The premise was interesting, but something that could rapidly get boring (I mean seeing a hypnotherapist to recover a stolen painting without letting her know what you are looking for? How many times can you see her before it all goes faulty?), but it was never really allowed to get dull, which I really liked. However, there were times that the thread was lost. James McAvoy delivered a great performanc, and he impresses me more and more every time. The story tried to get too clever and complicated at a stage, which made the film suffer a little, but it was no dealbreaker. I did enjoy the look of things, and the camera work was great and the film looked beautiful. I liked how it flipped between states so effortlessly. It is not a bad watch and it takes you for a fun ride nevertheless. The film really catches up in a good way and is well worth a watch.

22 thoughts on “Review: Trance (2013)

      1. The moment it came onto screen I did a double take, I really did not see that coming. I was a little shocked that the total nude frontal would come into play, but when it comes through later as the remaining piece of a puzzle, it really makes sense. It was artistic and beautiful when everything came together, and not just random nudity for the sake of it.


  1. AW. I absolutely adored Trance and walked out of the cinema gasping for air both times I saw it. But yeah, it did have some faults and I see what you mean about it having tried too hard. I’ll take the 7/10, anyway, haha. Nice review.


  2. The whole movie is based off of twists, turns, lies and characters not really being who they appear to be, and for that reason, it was a fun movie to watch. The characters I couldn’t really find myself caring for that much, if not at all. Good review Zoe.


  3. Slightly disappointing and overly complicated Zoe but I actually quite enjoyed it. McAvoy was great as you mention and I couldn’t really argue with your rating. Personally I’d bump it up another score.


    1. Thanks James!

      Looking forward to reading about it when you get to it. Not a bad watch though, just don’t go in expecting your mind to be blown.


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