Trance (2013) **

March 28th, 2013
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Danny Boyle

Script: Joe Aherne and John Hodge

Cast: Vincent Casell, James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson

101min          Crime thriller   UK

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As you might expect from Danny Boyle’s Olympic track record, he’s a director who’s big on bluster and bling. His latest outing Trance is no different. Billed as a heist thriller that uses hynotherapy to recover a stolen painting, it kicks off with a stylish monologue delivered by the ubiquitous James McAvoy, as the thief.  In his best bib and tucker, all bristling with West End finesse, he plays Simon, an art auctioneer with a sideline in crime that funds his poker debts but leaves him open to the menace of a criminal gang when a robbery goes wrong. All very stylish and promising.

So, an exhilarating, pulsating opening sequence. Brilliant. A crime thriller with a psychodrama thrown in. Even better. And with the charismatic Vincent Cassel, as Franck, heading up the gangster syndicate?  Settling into my seat, I tried to think of a poor choice he’s made in his acting career to date..Mesrine, La Haine, Irreversible, Eastern Promises are all top notch.,,

During the robbery, Simon suffers a head injury that leads to amnesia.  He can’t remember the whereabouts of the stolen Goya and is frogmarched off to Harley Street by Franck who hopes that Rosario Dawson’s gorgeous hypnotherapist will unlock the secret from his unconscious, for a share in the stash.

What then follows is a mind-blowing bewildering box of tricks, twists and turns that has even the most diehard plot maven searching for clues.  It’s as if Boyle had injected the entire proceedings with an excessive dose of speed: eventually nothing makes sense and we’re strapped to the engines of a turbo-charged prop heading to a dazzling denouement wondering what happened, why they even trusted McAvoy in the first place, and who is going to buy the priceless Goya to make it all worthwhile…

So what could have been a fascinating foray into the edgy world of mind-reading and art, in the hands of, say, Cronenburg, just turns into a disappointing blockbuster with an ambient soundtrack so overbearing it’s impossible to think let alone enjoy.

This was such a great premise and there are dynamite performances from Cassel as the urbaine and brutal gang leader and Rosario Dawson who sashays stylishly through the story complete with buttery burr and cool demeanour, only to blow it all with full frontal nudity removing any sense of mystery, allure or seriousness from her character; almost as if Danny Boyle was saying “Look what I got!”.

In short, the film lacks plausibility despite its positive pretentions and drifts into brash bonkbuster territory half way through, so very far from its distinct HItchcockian possibilities at the outset. Danny Boyle is a uniquely talented director with a stash of standouts but sadly Trance is not one of them. MT

TRANCE IS ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 27TH MARCH 2013

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