MAY 2, 2013

Danny Boyle wastes nothing in his latest psychological thriller, “Trance.” It is electrifying and suspenseful from start to fiery finish. Delving deep into the world of hypnosis and art heisting, the erratic nature of the film allows for building layers of shifting memories into different plots. In doing so, the viewer is submerged in the pulling twists and turns of the fractured narrative until they are spit out at the thought-provoking end. With hidden subtexts and eventual revelations, the audience learns the true sign of a compelling thriller as the characters do.

At the helm is leading man James McAvoy as Simon, a gambling-addicted art auctioneer. Right when we hear about art theft history and the protocol in case of a robbery, we know what’s going to go down. Rule one when getting robbed: don’t be a hero. But of course, good drama is in breaking the rules, so when thieves come for Goya’s “Witches In The Air,” Simon uses a taser on our resident villain, Franck (Vincent Cassel), and gets hammered in the head for his efforts. But his reason for stepping upshifts with the development of the plot.

When we next see Simon, he is in the hospital with severe head trauma and partial amnesia. Upon release, Franck and his goons are waiting, with an empty painting briefcase and no idea where Simon stashed the Goya. After torture proves ineffective, Franck lands on hypnosis to help jog Simon’s memory, handing him an iPad and telling him to pick his doctor. Simon prefers Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) because he likes the name. Under a pseudonym, wearing a wire, and telling her he needs to find his car keys, Simon visits Elizabeth, who sees right through the charade and enters the fray of this frantic, life or death search for the missing painting.

Dawson is at her showstopping best, with a sexy and commanding performance surrounded by an aura of femme fatale. Just as he does with Dawson, Boyle has a way of producing strong female characters, most prevalent in “28 Days Later” with Naomie Harris. Although one could argue that there are very few redeeming characteristics in any of these players, James McAvoy and Vincent Cassel both deliver adequate showings and create a fresh, intriguing take on the heist thriller. To top it off, Boyle adds a stylish flair to almost every frame of the film, producing a trippy escape into the streets of New York City.

One of his most ambitious films to date, “Trance,” becomes one of my personal favorites of Danny Boyle’s work. There’s a spark of genius that sets his films apart, giving them a touch of artistry unlike any of his peers. Despite its downfalls, like a constantly changing tone and unlikeable characters, there’s still a poetic, heartbreaking nature to “Trance” that sweeps you in and never let’s go. Boyle may not be the most visionary director of his time, but he can still produce a highly entertaining film.

April 5, 2013

Danny Boyle

Joe Ahearne
John Hodge

Fox Searchlight Pictures

(for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language)


101 minutes

Anthony Dod Mantle

Rick Smith

Jon Harris

James McAvoy
Vincent Cassel
Rosario Dawson
Danny Sapani
Tuppence Middleton
Simon Kunz

Christian Colson

$20 million

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