Thursday, February 6, 2014

Trance: Captivatingly Manipulative

Simon (James McAvoy), an art auctioneer, becomes involved in the theft of a painting from his own auction house. Simon's colleague Franck (Vincent Cassel) confronts him at gunpoint and takes the painting from him. When Franck tries to take the painting, Simon attacks him and receives a blow to the head that leaves him with amnesia.

the painting: Francesco de Goya's Witches in the Air

When Franck gets home, he discovers that the package contains only an empty frame. Franck and his offsiders then kidnap and torture Simon, but he has no memory of where he has hidden the painting, so Franck decides to hire a hypnotherapist to try and help him remember.

Franck makes Simon choose a hypnotist from a directory, and he chooses a woman named Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson).

Elizabeth notices the wire tapped to Simon's chest

Elizabeth first helps Simon remembers where he put his car keys before later, after a research on Simon's involvement in an art robbery, she manipulates the situation such that Franck has to invite her into the gang in order to retrieve the painting.

Elizabeth reveals she knew about the stolen painting

As tension escalates, Elizabeth and Franck start a relationship and she suggests that she try to seduce Simon to find the painting.

She has sex with Simon and hypnotises him. Simon has a dream where Franck and his associates plan to kill him, but he kills them instead.

In the dream, he remembers where the painting is, calls Elizabeth and tells her. Simon awakens, only to find Elizabeth is gone. When he calls her, she is on her way to get the painting, which Simon begs her not to.

Franck and his associates intercept Elizabeth and force her to lead them to the painting. As she kisses Simon, Elizabeth passes three bullets to him. He attacks Franck with a fire extinguisher and takes the other bullets and his gun. Elizabeth goes back into the apartment, where one of Franck's associates tries to rape her. Simon kills all three of them and takes Elizabeth to get the painting. She tells him to let Franck come with them. He then leads them to a parking garage where the painting is.

when romance once blooms

During the trip, Elizabeth reveals that Simon once met a therapist to fix a gambling addiction. They started dating and he became obsessed with her and eventually abusive.

bipolarity is no joke

She then used hypnosis to make him forget her which led him back into his gambling addiction. This addiction would cause Simon to go in debt and lead him to try to pay off the debt by stealing a painting, with the help of Franck, leading to the current events of the movie.

On the day of the heist, Simon was attacked by Franck and awoke several hours later, finding the stolen painting hidden in his suit.

Leaving the art gallery, he gets a mysterious text message while crossing the road before he's hit by a car. The female driver planned to take him to hospital, but Simon, with his memory partially regained, thinks the woman is Elizabeth and strangles her for making him forget her. He hides her corpse and the painting in the trunk and puts the car in a garage.

After driving out of the garage and stopping at a warehouse, Elizabeth finds the painting and the body in the car's trunk. Simon, having finally remembered his past and wanting to forget, douses the car in fuel with Franck zip-tied to the steering wheel, sets it on fire and tells Elizabeth to run away with the painting, he doesn't want it.

She runs away but promptly returns driving a truck which she drives into Simon, pinning him against the other car, and ultimately sending Simon, and the car Franck is trapped in, into the river.

Franck manages to escape, while it is implied that Simon drowns. The scene cuts to Franck swimming in his apartment while thinking of the event. He gets out of the pool and receives a package. He opens the package and finds an iPad that plays a video of Elizabeth talking about the painting, which is now hanging in her apartment. She reveals that when she hypnotized Simon to make him forget her, she also hypnotized him to go back into his gambling addiction. When Simon would try to steal a painting to pay off his debt, he would instead give the painting over to Elizabeth. This explains why Simon took the painting away from Franck at the beginning and the text message he received before being hit by the car, which is revealed to be from Elizabeth telling Simon to deliver the painting to her. Elizabeth then gives Franck the option to forget the ordeal, and a button for an app called "Trance" appears as the video ends. Franck is shown debating whether to press the button, and the screen cuts to black.

I watched this movie with the theme already fixated in my mind. i constantly thought that the caption would be "Trance: the Manipulating B!tch" because i had known first hand that Elizabeth had made Simon steal that painting for her. little did i knew that i would understand, why.

Greed is not in the equation. it never was. but it's simply a retribution, a retaliation of a woman wronged. and Franck with his gang were involved, simply to justify that need of stealing her a painting. worthy of 27,500 pounds yet she simply in the end stuck it on the wall. the irony of it.

if only we have the power to use hypnosis to solve our problems, just by mere words, and poof it goes away.. come to think of it, i wonder why didn't Elizabeth in the first place hypnotise Simon to be non-abusive, non-possessive? i mean, you know he got some problem, why don't you help the man you feel strongly enough to be in a relationship with, to rid of that?

i mean it, they have in the beginning such a wonderful, healthy relationship: the romance, the intelligence, the passion, the connection.. yet when he starts to show that jealous, possesive, violent streak, you who could hypnotise him into stealing that painting couldn't think of doing some hypnotism to cure him of it? come on!

the story was made in layers, interchangeably, that we could get lost in the narration if we don't pay attention. but as i was paying attention, rather attentively i must say, i could understand the fiery chemistry between Elizabeth and Franck flaring up, why she invites him to find her in the end. because Franck, a crook though he was, is still somewhat a decent man. i mean, he could have Simon shot dead in the beginning but he lets him live.. torturing information by ripping nails off? that is not the act of a man who kills at will.. nope. i could think of more torturous info extraction methods, i could say.. though it boggles my mind thinking of how the car not exploding after mere seconds set on fire. simon did splashed the gas all over him, yet the fire only gets to the pedal? come on!!

some describes this movie as psychosexual.. yup with RD so freely doing a full frontal a few times, that it irked some of the reviewers, this movie is surely explicit. that point aside, i find the casting of RD to be right on the spot. she was vulnerable at times, sultry at others, annoyingly manipulative but underneath it all, rather captivating. the way she talks, mesmerisingly if not downright hypnotic. the tone of the voice is just right, reasonable, level even.

as for JMA, i could understand why he couldn't pass the role after delving into the story. he's brilliant, absolutely brilliant in portraying a guy you could fall in love with, witty, companionable, cute.. and he transcends into the possessive jealous boyfriend effortlessly, it's so smoothly breathtaking.. though i could say his end was done rather lazily. i would vote for Elizabeth to hypnotise Simon into killing himself. save the trouble of leaving your DNA all over the place for the police to find out.. btw, WHERE IS THE POLICE? as if the painting is worth nothing? as if the missing woman with her Alfa Romeo parked somewhere were not missed by anyone at all?

i gave this movie initially 5 stars but had to whittle it down so that you'd understand, though this movie captivated me with its manipulative storytelling, it is not that solid. and i do admit of tasting monotony until the song picks up as Elizabeth walks out of the bathroom towards Simon. man, the song sorts of snaps me out of a trance, i tell you.

the soundtrack was really great btw. one of my favourites would be the song by Emeli Sande "Here it Comes". as the movie credits rolled in the end, it makes you feel refreshed, healed of the pain, cleansed..

geez, i wish i know the art of hypnotism, there are so many things that i could do and want to do, hahaha