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With Danny Boyle's 'Trance,' multiple layers of the surreal

April 05, 2013|By Steve Zeitchik
  • A scene from Danny Boyle's "Trance," opening in the U.S. on Friday.
A scene from Danny Boyle's "Trance," opening in the U.S.… (Fox Searchlight )

NEW YORK -- Tony Danza made a late appearance after a night at the theater. Shosh and Jessa (OK, Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke) breezed through the penthouse after-party with their male dates. Patrick Stewart and Kathleen Turner dropped in, sans mention of Jean-Luc Picard and Peggy Sue. And Debbie Harry walked up to the director to tell him what a fan she was, though she didn't tell him to call her.

And those were only the second-most surreal things to happen at the premiere this week for Danny Boyle's genre masher "Trance.”

The most strangeness, of course, came on the screen as, in true pot-Boyler fashion, bloodied half-heads competed with parallel realities, and a sense that something was happening gave way to the sense that something was not happening at all, or that it may have happened before, or that one day it will happen but hadn't happened yet.

"I apologize," Boyle said, "that this isn't a life-affirming film like '127 Hours.' "

The basic plot of "Trance," which opens Friday in the U.S. courtesy of Fox Searchlight, revolves around an art heist gone wrong. James McAvoy plays a young auction house guard who helps Vincent Cassel’s character steal a Goya masterpiece but then forgets where he puts it. Enter Rosario Dawson, a hypnotist who’s ostensibly there to help him find the painting, but gets caught up in both a love triangle and the dream-like shenanigans. Basically, it’s the shadowy machinations of a con-man movie with the head-spinning qualities of David Lynch, in which it’s not clear which thread is real and which isn’t.

“Einstein says time exists so that nothing happens at once. But film exists to show everything can happen at once,” Boyle said before the screening. (For more on the making of the movie, which was shot before Boyle's London Olympics project but edited afterward, see my colleague John Horn's piece from last Sunday's Calendar section.)

At the downtown Manhattan after-party hosted by New York’s Cinema Society, the director described to the Los Angeles Times his process for creating the movie: He made it as opaque as possible in the first edit, then in subsequent edits slowly pulled back the veil in certain places to offer small clues.

After a brief encounter with Harry, of whom Boyle seemed genuinely in awe, the director talked about some future plans.

There are two period pieces, unrelated, that he’s developing simultaneously. And there’s the much-discussed “Trainspotting” sequel, which Boyle said was real and which would pick up the events of Mark, Spud and the rest of the crew 15 or 20 years later. Irvine Welsh’s “Porno,” a literary follow-up to his original “Trainspotting” novel, would be only a loose guide — more inspiration than source material, he said.

But after directing “Trance,” a callback of sorts to earlier work like "Shallow Grave" and "28 Days Later," Boyle said he’s also not so sure he doesn’t want to plunge back into another “Trance.” “There’s something just so fun and exciting about the genre films,” he said. We're already expecting the Blondie-themed soundtrack.


Movie Review: 'Trance'

Danny Boyle calls for a retake on 'Trance'

SXSW: Danny Boyle and Rick Smith spin party into a 'Trance'

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