Director: Danny Boyle
James McAvoy ...Simon
Summary: Simon, a fine art auctioneer, helps set up the theft of a very valuable painting but during the theft, double crosses the thieves and takes the painting and hides it. During the robbery he is hit on the head and the resulting brain injury means he doesn't remember where he put it. A hypnotherapist tries to help him unravel his memory and the lines between reality and what's in Simon's head start to blur.
First, let's get the shallow part out of the way. James McAvoy has a very, very nice naked arse, which is on display for quite some time in the middle of the film. I approve.
Okay, now on to deeper things. I really enjoyed this film (and no not just because James gets naked). I'm not always fond of psychological thrillers that are mind benders, which this most certainly is, but this one is put together beautifully. What I really love about it is the repeating ideas which mean that you can actually watch it the way it pans out and enjoy it, but if you don't want to believe that's the way the story actually went, hell, you don't have to. I'll put my theory of what really happened at the end under a spoiler section.
There are actually six characters in it nearly all the way through, but I do have to admit only three really impinged on my memory. The other three were good, and required, but I never did figure out their names. As far as my brain is concerned they are The Black Guy, The Skinny Guy and The White Guy. I do apologise to the fine actors who played them, but there was so much going on I did not have enough brain power left to pick up their characters' names.
The three main protagonists are Simon, Elizabeth and Franck (see the piccie above). I'm not going to lie, I went to see the film because of James McAvoy (if you look round my blog you might notice I'm a bit of a fan), but I was not remotely disappointed by the rest of the cast either. Rosaria Dawson is magnificent as Elizabeth, the hypnotherapist and Vincent Cassel is superb as the very practical Franck.
This is ultimately a film about a strong woman manipulating the men around her. There is no doubt through most of the movie who is in control and it is brilliantly done.
The way the film moves from reality to fantasy back to reality so smoothly with very few indications of what is real and what is not, means that anything could be happening. There are clues as to the plot reveal at the end throughout the whole film, so you can look back and go, oh yeah, and, if you're like me, pick them up on the way through, but, because of the nature of the movie, nothing is actually black and white.
The plot uses repeating ideas and mirrors events with one character with another so that anything is possible.
Now don't get me wrong, the plot is more than a little far fetched. Hypnotic suggestions, mind control; it's all in there, but as long as you go with that being real, it's perfectly put together. It requires that suspension of disbelief, but then so do many cold war dramas of the sixties and seventies and it's asking no more.
The cinematography is beautiful and the looking straight at the camera shots are used wonderfully to make the audience sit up, take notice and feel uncomfortable.
Word of warning, however, if you are squeamish or triggered by torture (male or female) or rape/violence towards women, do not watch this film. Highlight here to find out why if you wish to know >> There is a graphic scene of torture at the beginning involving fingernails and there is an almost rape towards the end as well a scenes of a woman being hit in an abusive rather than part of the plot everyone is getting beaten up way.
I really enjoyed this film and now I would like a copy so I can watch it again just to see if what I think I saw I actually saw :).
So on to my theory of what really happened, highlight the following paragraphs to read it because lots of spoilers:
My whole theory revolves around one idea: the painting is a fake. I still think Elizabeth is the brains behind the whole operation, but the head auctioneer is in on it too, along with the seller of the painting. It's all actually an insurance scam and Franck is the fall guy. Simon did go to Elizabeth about his gambling and she was helping him and they did have an affair, but it never got ugly. What happened is the painting came in, the head auctioneer realised it was a fake and they all saw an opportunity to get rich from the insurance and pay off all Simon's debts.
Franck is the one easily hypnotised, not Simon and the whole last part of the film is his delusion, rather than a good percentage of the movie being Simon's.
They needed some criminals to make it look like a real robbery and they used Simon's contacts to find Franck.
Simon took the painting and it never left the building. Elizabeth hypnotised him to forget the truth so that when he was beaten up by Franck he couldn't reveal the scam, but that's as far as her input with him went. Every other interaction they had was for Franck's benefit. The one snag was when Simon was hit on the head, but it played out in their favour in the end because it made the whole thing more believable. The original plan had involved a fake head injury or psychosomatic amnesia or something.
When the gang allowed Elizabeth to hypnotise them, they gave her the opportunity she needed to plant suggestions, to which she gave Simon the key. While she was with Franck, doing to him exactly what she had told him she was going to Simon, Simon went to the others and sent them as far away as possible, since by the end of the movie they are supposed to be dead. From the point where Elizabeth tells Franck there is something she wants to tell him, right to the end, it all happens in Franck's head.
There was no red alpha, no murder and no flaming car; Elizabeth planted it all in Franck's mind. Then she and Simon jetted off to somewhere hot and out of the way and she sent the vid back to Franck to make sure he believes it all.
or It did all happen as shown and in Trance 2 Simon comes back (we all know if you don't see the body in the bag, death is questionable - that's movie law) and spends the entire movie playing mind games with Franck and Elizabeth.
This entry was originally posted at http://beren-writes.dreamwidth.org/243338.html.