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Trance - Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DANNY Boyle’s first film since winning global acclaim for directing the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics is a mind-bending thrill-ride that perhaps represents his most shocking work to date.

A heist movie that morphs into something more cerebral and which consistently has fun toying with perception, the film almost demands repeat viewing to find out what you missed (and whether it all makes sense).

Simon (James McAvoy) is an art dealer whose gambling debts compel him to approach a gangster, Franck (Vincent Cassel), to help pull off the theft of a painting worth £25 million.

But while the heist goes almost to plan, Simon sustains a head injury that leaves him with amnesia and the whereabouts of the stolen painting locked in his brain.

Desperate to get his hands on it, Franck enlists the help of a hypnotist named Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) who carefully works with Simon to unpick the lock in his brain, all the while mindful of the fact that they could be double-crossed at any moment.

Boyle’s film may kick off from a fairly simple idea but its journey is a mind-boggling rollercoaster ride packed with twists and red herrings. Needless to say, the less you find out about it the better to properly appreciate its many surprises.

With that in mind, it also allows Boyle to underline the many trademarks that have helped him to become one of the world’s best directors, including his eye-popping visual style, his ear for a great soundtrack and his relish for genre subversion.

There is a lot here to genuinely surprise and even shock, whether it’s the use of male and female nudity, the gasp-worthy nature of some of the violence (some of which strays into horror territory and threatens to leave a nasty taste) or the blurring of the real and the imagined.

Put together, Trance is a heady brew that leaves you gasping for breath in places.

But if it does delight in excess, Boyle’s brilliance is being able to marry visceral style with compelling human drama and this film offers a rich trio of characters.

McAvoy is great as Simon, who becomes more of an enigma the longer he’s on-screen, while Dawson and Cassel are similarly superb. The former, in particular, embraces a role that is layered in complexity, while Cassel brings typically devilish charm to his calculated villain.

Hence, even when the story itself threatens to falter, you’ll be so wrapped up in the characters you may not even notice.

Trance is therefore a flawed but dazzling piece of work that almost effortlessly has you hypnotised from start to finish.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 102mins
UK Release Date: March 27, 2013