I enjoyed both Trance and Upstream Color and they certainly deserve a full review, but I saw these films in the midst of my vacation and the longer it's been since I've seen the films, the harder it's gotten for me to write full-length reviews. Instead, and because divulging in the film's plots would be giving them away, I will just let you know of my personal thoughts and feelings regarding the films.
James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, and Rosario Dawson star in this twisty, psychosexual drama "Trance," the latest film from Danny Boyle. Boyle's a filmmaker of whom I admire very much. He's like a chameleon. He likes to jump from genre to genre and he does this quite well. So it was especially gratifying to see him get his hands a little dirty again after a couple of fairly pristine films. "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 Hours" certainly have their ugly moments, but "Trance" harkens back to the days when he was making "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting." Dark, funny, bloody, crime-ridden (that's a word, right?). Danny Boyle returns to these elements with ease, effortlessly integrating his style in a genre that requires a great amount of style to really succeed. And "Trance" does just that. The colors, the camera work, the music, the humor... all makes "Trance" much more entertaining than your standard film in this genre. Plus, it's way sexier than most crime films you'll see these days. Cassel plays a criminal attempting to steal a classic work of art, McAvoy plays the man who gets in his way, and Rosario Dawson plays a hypnotherapist who attempts to help McAvoy's character. But there's way, way more that's going on in this film and I'll just let you enter the film as naked as possible so that you can get mindfucked like I did. And yeah, it's that kind of film. While I started to feel like the film got a little too smart and too twisty for its own good towards the end, overall, "Trance" is incredibly entertaining. There's never a dull moment in this, just like in any Boyle film.
It took nine years for us to finally see a follow up to Shane Carruth's "Primer" and thankfully, Carruth has made yet another film that we will be analyzing and dissecting for years to come. What makes "Upstream Color" more resonant and, perhaps, more memorable than "Primer" is the romantic element of the film. Color starts off as sort of a mix of body horror/sci-fi and psychological drama, but then turns into a psychological romantic surrealistic sci-fi mystery... or something. Really, it gets to the point where you can't even define the film. It just floats off into this other world where it ceases to be a genre though it resembles many different genres. Again, I'd hate to give much of this film away, but I'll try my best. Early in the film, we start to follow Kris whose life gets derailed when she is drugged by a small-time thief. When she finally comes to, she finds her life, as she knows it, to be pretty much destroyed and is forced to start anew. She eventually meets Jeff, of whom she develops a deep bond with. But they both discover that there's something deeper and bigger going on that has made them become so attached to each other. That's the best way I can describe this without giving too much away. The film, like Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life" is edited in a way that evokes a tone poem of sorts. The editing is more jazz-influenced than anything else, meant to explore these characters from an emotional standpoint as opposed to going from plot point to plot point. Still, there's definitely something disturbing and unsettling going on in the film that will keep you guessing until the very end when it all kinda comes together in a way that's both ingenious and somewhat infuriating. Don't get me wrong, Upstream Color works. But it's hard not to ignore that its approach can be a bit frustrating at times. Obviously, this will be a film that will reveal more of itself to you with repeated viewings, but there are times when its approach feels vague just for the sake of being vague. Still, Color is an incredible achievement in many ways, especially when it dabbles into the more romantic elements of its story. The film has much to say and crams a lot into 96 minutes, so much it can make your head spin. But, when you finally awake from the hypnotic movie, you'll find that there's something truly brilliant about this film.