Danny Boyle messes with our minds in this mesmeric psychological thriller.
Trance is a film about art theft, infatuation and the dark art of suggestion, mingling together in a package that bears all the stylistic hallmarks of director Danny Boyle’s previous works. While it may not ultimately be as satisfying, there is plenty of intrigue and enjoyment to be dredged from its treacle-dense plot.
Simon (James McAvoy) is an auctioneer who conspires to steal a valuable painting from his place of employment with the help of a criminal gang led by Franck (Vincent Cassel). During the robbery he receives a knock on the head and the painting goes walkabouts. A bout of amnesia means that James can’t remember where he hid it and so Franck agrees to allow him to see a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) in order to unlock the memory of its location.
The looping, swooping narrative invites the audience to guess at its trajectory, and while it’s not entirely surprising, it does develop a sense creeping dread that Boyle perfected in films like Shallow Grave. McAvoy is excellent as the addled protagonist, while Dawson does her best to seem intellectually detached, which adds to the film’s flirtations with the surreal.
Boyle continues to make interesting movies that have mainstream appeal and Trance, while not without its flaws, is an engaging experiment. It’s the kind of film that’s difficult to discuss without spoiling some of its twists, so check it out when it releases on March 27th.