Director: Danny Boyle
Screenplay: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Starring: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson
Running Time: 101 minutes
Danny Boyle’s latest thriller is a film that bounces all over the place with a plot that is both convoluted and completely outlandish. Twists and turns are plentiful, and at times the film is hard to follow. However, it is directed with a style and vision that only Boyle can pull off.
James McAvoy stars as Simon, an art auctioneer who is violently hit in the head by criminal Franck (Vincent Cassel) during an art heist gone bad. When Simon regains consciousness, it is discovered that he also has amnesia — he cannot remember anything that happened after the damaging blow to the head. His memory is crucial, as it turns out that he had hidden an extremely valuable painting during the heist, sending Franck and his goons home empty-handed. Franck begins torturing Simon in a desperate attempt to find its whereabouts. Realizing Simon isn’t bluffing with his amnesia, Franck sends him to a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), in a further attempt to unlock the memories of where the painting might be.
From there, the film bends in all sorts of directions, and there are enough dream sequences shown to make it very difficult to know just what is real and what is fantasy. This is a film that must be taken at face value; it asks its audience to go with the flow and not think too much about what is happening on screen. So much of it is far-fetched that these jumps in logic are bound to infuriate some.
For a good 3/4 of the film, it’s incredibly difficult to determine what exactly is happening. A huge twist near the end puts things in perspective, and it is in this way that the film rewards patient viewers. Sure, it may not entirely make sense, but then again the film’s concept itself is pretty ridiculous.
In the hands of a lesser director, Trance could easily be a middling affair. However, this is Danny freakin’ Boyle, so at the very least it’s full of eye candy. Dazzling shots, vibrant colors and a rush of a soundtrack (composed by Underworld’s Rick Smith, no less) all help make Trance fly by.
The cast, of whom McAvoy, Cassel and Dawson are all given nearly equal screen time, is strong, and they play off each other rather well. The arch of McAvoy’s character is particularly invigorating, and he delivers what may be his strongest performance yet. It is Dawson’s performance, however, that people will remember most. She is completely believable as a hypnotherapist, which is a major feat in itself. I could listen to her soothing voice all day long.
While Trance may jump around a bit too much for its own good, it remains a solid thriller that is rewarding enough for those who sit through till the end. It is the type of film that begs to be seen more than once, but at the same time it is perhaps not strong enough to warrant repeat viewings.