For anyone who ever thought Inception needed to be sexier, Danny Boyle’s new film, Trance, is for you. While this shrewd connection is far from all the film is about, it’s certainly a defining characteristic separating the two. Right down to the last scene, you’ll feel more than a sense of déjà vu as a robbery goes awry and someone calls upon the help of a hypnotherapist to find a missing painting. By bringing back his old partner in crime, screenwriter John Hodge who wrote Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, and The Beach for him, the two are up to their old tricks again with Trance, a remake of co-writer Joe Ahearne’s original TV movie from 2001.
Simon (James McAvoy) works security for Delancy’s Auctions, specializing in classic paintings. They have strict procedures to help them beat whatever plans the thugs of nowadays may come up with to make sure the expensive artwork doesn’t go missing. Before you know it, a gang of thugs has just attempted to steal Francisco Goya’s Witches in the Air, but leader Franck (Vincent Cassel) soon finds out that the painting doesn’t make it back to their hideout. During the robbery, Franck knocks Simon unconscious after he Tasers him. It turns out that Simon has hidden the painting but after the hard blow to the head, he can’t remember what he did with it. Now Franck makes Simon pick a hypnotherapist to jog his memory, bringing him to the office of Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), who quickly realizes that something isn’t right about her new client. A mental game of cat-and-mouse begins.
To delve any deeper into the plot would ruin any chance of fun lined up for you, so that’s all I’m willing to spill. But Boyle and Hodge have a lot of fun tricks up their sleeves, even if it’s all a little familiar and never strays too far from Christopher Nolan’s brilliant masterpiece. Boyle’s cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle is no stranger to bringing Boyle’s worlds to life after lensing 28 Days Later, Millions, Slumdog Millionaire, and 127 Hours for him. Their reliance of Dutch angles is far over. There are some amazing shots scattered throughout the film, with an abundance of reflections keeping the viewer questioning what they’re really seeing. Rick Smith also contributes immaculately, matching Jon Harris’s sharp editing step-for-step with his almost hypnotic score.
Hats off to Rosario Dawson for being one of few actresses nowadays willing to bare it all. It’s getting pretty annoying to see actresses taking these kinds of parts in movies while having no nudity clauses. McAvoy and Cassel make for worthy adversaries in their game of bait-and-switch, but by the film’s end, Boyle, Hodge, and Ahearne are nearly in over their heads. The crap hits the fan, as it always does in a Boyle film. The more I think about the film’s events, the more it makes sense, helping the last scene be far from a cheat. It makes Trance a film that deserves to be seen more than once. Or at least thought about a little harder than most, and from Danny Boyle we wouldn’t expect anything less.
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