Movie reviews: Trance

This week's pick of the flicks.

Art gallery employee Simon (James McEvoy) is the inside man when a gang led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) steals a rare painting. The meticulously planned robbery goes wrong from the very start, however. Not only does Simon double-cross Franck and hide the stolen painting, he gets a whack on his head that leaves him with amnesia. Can hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) help Simon to remember where he has hidden the painting? Director Danny Boyle’s latest film, Trance (16s), is on one level an old-fashioned heist-gone-wrong flick. On another level, however, as Elizabeth helps Simon remember who he is and what he does, it’s a fascinating investigation into the nature of identity, and the extent to which memory shapes our personalities. Simultaneously a pacy, thought-provoking tale, the blend of fast-paced thriller and the more cerebral exploration of the mind’s complexities doesn’t quite gel, particularly as some of the characters are required to embody radically different characteristics as the tone shifts back and forth. Dawson turns in an excellent performance as a kind of Scheherazade figure, spinning story upon story to the increasingly desperate criminals as she seeks to capitalise on her position of power. McEvoy is good too, especially as the audience is never entirely sure if Simon is genuinely amnesiac or simply shamming in order to con his tormentors. Unfortunately, Cassel is less convincing as the boss.

Good Vibrations (15A) is a biopic-of-sorts of ‘the Godfather of Belfast Punk’, aka Terri Hooley (Richard Dormer), the man who revolutionised the music scene in Belfast during the 1970s. Set against the backdrop of the Troubles, and featuring snippets of grainy newsreel footage of those bleak times, the film posits the theory that Hooley’s enthusiasm for three chords and the truth represented a kind of ‘soft’ revolution, as kids from both communities came together in a non- sectarian atmosphere to pogo along to the likes of the Outcasts, the Undertones, et al. In a telling scene, Hooley ventures to London to plug his latest record, only for a company executive to reject it on the basis that the lyrics lacked the bombs, bullets and mayhem of the Troubles. This, of course, was the whole point of the Good Vibrations label, which was only one element of a loose collective geared towards normalising the experience of growing up in what amounted to a war zone. It’s a powerful, upbeat and largely optimistic tale that benefits hugely from excellent performances from Dormer and Jodie Whittaker, the latter in the role of Hooley’s long-suffering wife, Ruth, who represents the unwelcome intrusion of reality into Hooley’s vision of Belfast as a punk nirvana. The film doesn’t shy away from depicting the extent to which Hooley’s labour of love was domestically chaotic and personally destructive. A bitter- sweet tale lovingly told, it’s a fitting tribute — as is the pulsating soundtrack — to one man’s enduring dream.

Finding Nemo 3D (G) is the latest Pixar re-release to get the 3D treatment. Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is the ultra-cautious clownfish father of young Nemo (Alexander Gould), an adventurous boy keen to explore the vast ocean beyond his home reef. Pixar’s trademark fabulous visuals get an extra kick from the vivid colours available in the underwater world, and the animation team has terrific fun generating a host of absurd and bizarre creations, including the sharks who take a vow not to prey on their fellow fish, and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a fish with a serious issues when it comes to short-term memory. Finding Nemo might not be in the first rank of Pixar movies with Up, Wall-E and the Toy Story films, but there are more than enough thrills and spills here to entertain the kids, while adults can’t help but be touched by the poignancy of the quest.

Also released this week is The Host (12A), which stars Saoirse Ronan and is directed by Andrew Niccol from Stephanie Meyers’ novel about an invasion of alien bodysnatchers. At the time of going to press, the film had not received a media screening.


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