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'Trance' Director Danny Boyle Channels Evil Side with Naked Femme Fatale: Exclusive Interview, Early Reviews

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 22, 2013 at 2:54PM

"Trance" is stylish escapist fun that makes excellent use of reflective surfaces including the iPad, among other visual tricks--when it isn't pummeling you into submission. Boyle isn't one to sit back and let you feel calm and relaxed. Early reviews by trade critics claim that style trumps substance here. Our video interview with Boyle is below.

The Hollywood Reporter:


All the same, the overriding impression is one of a game in which the narrative tricks and amped-up pulse dominate over all other concerns. It's as if the challenge the filmmakers set for themselves was not so much to tell a story as to discover how many clever and devious ways they could disguise and hide what's coming, to the point that the subject seems to serve the style rather than the other way around.



Hypnotism is fair game in this brash, beyond-belief psychothriller from director Danny Boyle, who seizes on a script co-written by Joe Ahearne and longtime Boyle collaborator John Hodge as a chance to play elaborate mind games with fans of his early work. A trippy variation on the dream-within-a-dream movie, Boyle’s return-to-form crimer constantly challenges what auds think they know, but neglects to establish why they should care.


The film is quite simply trying far too hard. It descends into a cauldron of iffy acting and un-exciting plot convolutions. With such a consciously exotic idea at the film's heart, it may be obtuse to ask for plausibility but there's an atonal symphony of false notes in the drama and performances. Often, stretches of dialogue will go past that sound as if they have been turned into English using Google translation software.

The Playlist:

Some will kick against the film's unwillingness to have an entirely sympathetic character, and few would argue that by the time it's done, it's maybe gone a twist or two too far, stretching plausibility to absolute breaking point. But it just about held together for us, the film proving to be a head-spinning, psychologically rich take on the crime flick. Those who anointed Boyle a national icon after the Olympics will likely be taken aback by the sex and violence, but one senses he's been having too much fun to notice.

This article is related to: Reviews, Danny Boyle, Danny Boyle, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, James McAvoy, Reviews, Trance

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.