Something weird is happening with Danny Boyle.
I love Danny Boyle. I’ve loved almost every single film that the man’s made. His visual style, his narrative sense, and the projects he selects are all always on point. He’s an auteur. He guides his films with the deftness and steady hand of a seasoned pro.
Well, at least he used to.
If you’ll cast your mind back to the last Olympics you’ll remember that it took place in England. Mr Boyle’s home. You might also remember that there was a special cameo by Britain’s most iconic super spy, James Bond. Danny Boyle directed the sequence in which the queen mother and Daniel Craig’s Bond interact, walk with some dogs, and then parachute into a sporting arena. You might also recall that there was some questionable cinematography choices. The sequence with the corgi puppies was horrendously bad. It was printed off time, as to give everything a ghosting or jittery effect. It looked like the intro to a 1982 sitcom. I half expected Craig to turn to the camera, eek out a pained grimace, and hiss out, ‘Bond. James Bond’. Thankfully, we were spared.
I vividly recall sitting back in my chair after Bond and the Queen finished their skit and thinking, ‘That was directed by Danny Boyle and starring James Bond. I should have loved that. But I didn’t.’ I was bewildered. I was shocked. Why didn’t I love this? It was Danny Boyle and James Bond. How did I not love this?
Because it sucked. Because something weird is happening with Danny Boyle.
On a recent flight from New York to Los Angeles I had the misfortune of witnessing Danny Boyle’s latest feature film, Trance. The Danny Boyle-James Bond was apparently just the beginning of his downward spiral.
Trance is a mismanaged, overly stylized, convolutedly trite film.
Trance centers on James McAvoy’s Simon who works as a art auctioneer. As you’d expect the art that he’s auctioning is stolen. During the stealing of said art, he gets into a struggle with the thief and is hit on the temple. When he wakes up it’s revealed that he was actually in on the art theft and was merely showing off. However, due to being concussed he’s lost some of his memory. Particularly the bit where he swapped out the art that is worth 27 million dollars. As a means of helping him remember where he put the painting, he goes to see a hypnotherapist. The rest of the film is a muddled concoction of backstabieng, plot twists, dream logic, and wild narrative swings.
Something is weird is happening with Danny Boyle. Trainspotting was weird. Transpotting had narrative twists. It was stylistically delivered but it was still consumable and enjoyable. Trance? Not so much. There’s so much style that it overwhelms the film. You stop paying attention to the characters and instead pay attention to the neon blue light that they’re being bathed in.
Simply put, Trance is a mess. The film has delusions of grandeur. Danny Boyle is so far up his own ass at this point that he can’t see the light of day. There’s are so many ‘twists’ at the end of the film that I felt as though I had whiplash. It was insane.
This experience has made me question if I will be going to see Danny Boyle’s next film. I never want to endure another experience like Trance. EVER. AGAIN.