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Poster Lab: Trance

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Poster Lab: <em>Trance</em>

A seemingly unapologetic genre vehicle, Trance looks like Danny Boyle’s first film since Sunshine that won’t become awards bait. Instead, the sci-fi thriller shows goals of stylistic crowd-pleasing, to which Boyle is surely no stranger. An art-world tale sprinkled with hypnotherapy themes, Trance gets artfully literal with its initial UK one-sheet, which comes in three character variations.

The leading image, featuring lead star James McAvoy, warns that his art-auctioneer not “be a hero,” which of course promises plenty of derring-do. The other two, which lay the same design over the faces of Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassell, offer taglines pertaining to personal security (i.e. “Do You Feel Safe?”). The evidence, including the film’s trailer, suggests a flick that blends The Thomas Crown Affair with Inception, following a man involved with art theft as folks try to retrieve memories from his brain.

The U.K. posters are eye-catching in all their trippy minimalism, and they call to mind a handful of similar cover art. Though the geometry is different, with triangles swapped in for circles, a sister design is that which fronted Dean Koontz’s 1995 novel Intensity, which later inspired a TV miniseries and Alexandre Aja’s Haute Tension. Another related work is the stunning one-sheet for 2009’s Moon, an image that perfectly married graphic panache with its film’s isolationist themes.

At least two more Trance posters have been released thus far. One is a very traditional quad that uses the hypnotic pattern as mere backdrop, and pushes its handsome, silvery-toned stars to the forefront. The other, which is of course the version hitting U.S. multiplexes, is a big ol’ mess of pixel-ish digital dropout, with McAvoy’s screaming face hacked up into CMYK slivers. The implication seems to reflect Boyle’s overall aesthetic, which uses mirrors, multiple cells and various refractions to convey a fractured psyche/reality. There is something arresting about the U.S. version, but the notion that it breaks tradition isn’t all that sound. Despite the uncommon abstraction, it’s still a loud assault of excess, perfect for getting butts in seats.