'Trance' movie review: A thought-provoking daze

'Trance' movie review: A thought-provoking daze

Credit: Facebook/@anwarrasheedentertainment

Trance

Director: Anwar Rasheed

Cast: Fahadh Faasil, Nazriya Nazim, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Chemban Vinod Jose, Soubin Shahir, Vinayakan

Score: 4.5/5

Anwar Rasheed makes films that somehow seep through the screen and envelope you in the very essence of a true cinematic experience. Ustad Hotel was a culinary journey that celebrated the joy of cooking and made you long for the taste of delicious biryani and a cup of Sulaimani. Trance is an acid trip into the mind of Viju Prasad (Fahadh Faasil), a failed motivational speaker who is struggling with mental illness.

Trance, written by Vincent Vadakkan, is a daring film that explores the serpentine odyssey of the creation of a billionaire Christian televangelist. The cinematography and the sound design of the tale lend a psychedelic feel to the narrative that makes the audience question what they're seeing. The scenes move thick and fast as Viju shifts his life from Kanyakumari to Mumbai. A down-on-his-luck insomniac losing his grip on reality is suddenly "discovered" by Solomon Davis (Gautham Vasudev Menon) and Issac Thomas (Chemban Vinod Jose) and is asked to step into a new destiny that promises fame and wealth beyond measure. 

Avarachan (Dileesh Pothan) teaches and hammers the atheist Viju to transform him into the inspirational Pastor Joshua Carlton. Fahadh carries the movie with an infectious energy that bursts off the screen. He is brilliant in his portrayal of Viju's evolution as the character embraces his inner maniac and indulges in over-the-top theatricality that would not be out of place in a show from a master illusionist. The depiction of faith healers who create shock and awe with their amazing feats is spot-on in the screenplay. 

The narrative makes it a point to show that a struggle with depression, unmonitored ingestion of antidepressants and an illusory lifestyle can combine to tear away the seams between dreams and reality. The audience is led to believe that Viju has bought into his own hype and has come to believe on some level in his incredible miracles. The background score, lighting and colour palette add a dreamlike quality to the proceedings. 

The film accelerates at the halfway point, draws parallels with messianic prophets, plays with our perceptions and takes us to the edge of the supernatural. It is to the screenplay's credit that we aren't quite sure what to expect from one scene to the next. Anwar is able to deftly juggle multiple tones and intertwining storylines through the length of the flick. Nazriya Nazim has a fairly small role but she makes a memorable impact that resonates. Trance runs close to three hours but the story somehow flies by before you realise it.  

A special mention has to be made of Soubin Shahir as TV journalist Mathews Thomas who engages in an enthralling battle of wills with Viju/Pastor Joshua.

The third act and final resolution might seem a tad predictable but looking back on it, the denouement actually feels fitting while also managing to do justice to the character of Viju. 

Some works of cinema transcend the very foundations on which they are constructed while feeling authentic and creating a visceral snapshot of the human condition. Dileesh Pothan's Maheshinte Prathikaaram with Fahadh from 2016 comes to mind. Trance is another such effort that is courageous, thought-provoking and encourages conversations about issues that matter to us on a personal level and speaks to society as a whole. An avant-garde achievement in fimmaking anchored by a sublime Fahadh at his very best, Trance deserves all the plaudits that are sure to come its way.

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