Hot off the heals from the Great British Epic, Danny Boyle’s eclectic back catalogue now expands to the psychological thriller. Trance begins by appearing every bit as smart and sharp as his magnum opus that is of course Trainspotting (maybe not entirely surprising when you consider both share the screenwriter John Hodge), before it fizzles out into a faux-Inception narrative which prizes style over storytelling and substance.
Opening up with a truly gripping opening sequence narrated by auction house worker Simon (James McAvoy), who rockets through its security processes. Due to gambling debts, he has become tied up in an inside job to steal a £20m painting, only to inexplicably change his mind at the last minute and decide to steal it all for himself. In the process, he gets knocked unconscious and suffers from the form of amnesia so often conveniently displayed in movies. As torture seems no use, Vincent Cassell leads a pack of stupidly faceless heavies and decides to hire a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to try and unlock the memories from Simon’s head, which is when reality really start to bend.
The film lacks attention to character, preferring to whiz ferociously through minds and slick surfaces. The film disappears within itself; attempting to do so much when really failing to produce an interesting story or building stakes worth caring about. Its story is littered with irritating lapses in logic and its multi-layered psychology which seems keener to please itself than the viewer, producing even less payoff. While its lighting and experimental angles look typically gorgeous, Trance’s ambition feels totally overblown and it unfortunately becomes absorbed by a chaotic narrative and a dreadfully overwrought soundtrack, always keen to inform the viewer that this is a moment of climatic excitement even when the film has done little to earn such pulses. There’s still no doubt that Boyle’s readiness to leap between genres should always be applauded and this will go down as merely a small blip in a courageous and fabulously successful career.
Review by David Rank
Trance is out now in the UK and released on 5th April in the US (limited). Certificate 15 (UK). Running time 101 mins.
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