Fine art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) gets mixed up with a gang led by Frank (Vincent Cassel) to steal a spectacularly valuable painting during the auction. When things go wrong and the painting disappears, Franck gets dangerously angry with Simon, whose memory loss complicates matters. Desperate, Simon joins forces with Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), a hypnotherapist, hoping she will help him recover his memory of what happened to the painting. But the boundaries between desire, reality and hypnotic suggestion begin to blur and the stakes escalate.
Review by Louise Keller:
Like a snake-pit filled with ever-wriggling reptiles, Trance delves into the cesspool of the mind, triggering ever-changing scenarios involving memory, the subconscious, perceptions and their manipulation. It's one hell of a trip and Danny Boyle jerks us well beyond our comfort zone in this intriguing and often bewildering tale involving a multi-million dollar art theft, an amnesiac, the crooks after the money and the shapely hypnotherapist who holds the key to the secrets hiding in the mind's dark abysses.
It all begins at a prestigious art auction, where Rembrandt's The Storm on the Sea of Galilee is stolen after the hammer comes down at 27million pounds. Adding grit to the mystique of the premise is the fact that this painting was actually stolen from the Massachusetts museum in 1990 and remains an unsolved art theft. But I must not digress. Let's revert to Joe Ahearne and John Hodge's screenplay, whose art auctioneer protagonist Simon (James McAvoy) sets the scene with its elaborate security measures and mantra that no piece of art is worth a human life. The nasty knock on the head received from Vincent Cassel's art thief Franck, puts him in hospital, closely followed by a series of complex events that pave the way to hypnotherapy sessions with gorgeous Rosario Dawson as Elizabeth.
As Simon, Franck and Elizabeth become inextricably bound together in a quest to find the missing painting, the storyline leans every which way to find the way forward. There are tense moments as Franck and his colleagues listen to Simon's therapy sessions, eavesdropping through a wire, and tantalising ones as Elizabeth insists everyone's vulnerabilities need to be exposed.
There's also explosive sexual chemistry at work for both Franck and Simon with the seductive Elizabeth, whose every striking curve is revealed. As Elizabeth uses her professional wiles to knock on the windows of Simon's mind, prompting confusion as fragments of memories are stimulated, we tread the fine line between fantasy and reality. Who is playing whom? Where does control begin and end? Who holds the key to the endless stream of dark secrets?
Nothing prepares us for the dramatic, thrilling final revelations, when fire, water and explosions shatter any preconceptions we may have had earlier. McAvoy continues to deliver superb, complex characterizations; Cassell exudes sex and danger; we can't keep our eyes off Dawson. This is no bedtime story - Trance will keep you awake, in the best possible way.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Danny Boyle and his team manage to glue us to our seats with a strong story and the sort of creative filmmaking that elevates what could have been a pretentious thriller into an artistic, compelling and intriguing surprise. I urge readers to avoid too much information about Trance, because it's a film that is really at its most powerful the less you know about it.
What I will say is that Boyle delivers a masterclass in how to use the tools and language of cinema to prize the most tension and engagement from the material, how to explore the impossible territories of memory, how to switch time frames and how to keep it all accessible yet enticingly complex.
He has an exceptional cast for the job: Rosario Dawson is riveting in her best ever role as the hypnotherapist who can put a spell on you like no other. But it's not all in the mind; she gets to show off her stunning body in a full frontal that is both relevant (more than we realise at the time) and tasteful, but also pretty hot.
James McAvoy surprises somewhat (in a good way) in the role of Simon, which is both physically and emotionally demanding, and which stretches his flawed character from one end of human nature to another. And in a terrifically inspired piece of casting Vincent Cassel creates a totally credible criminal in Franck, without any of the usual (or unusual) clichees. His unique face and his screen authority are excellent tools which he puts to great use.
Together with the wonderful supporting cast, the leads provide interesting characters who are layered and surprising, thanks to a great screenplay.
Adding to all that is Anthony Dod Mantle's superb cinematography; he seems to work with such inspiration that what might have been a visual transition aerial shot turns into art. His choices for lighting and angles and framing are quite subtle but brilliant. To top it off, composer Rick Smith breathes a third dimension into the images on screen, exhausting all the emotional possibilities. Trance really is entrancing.
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CAST: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Tuppence Middleton, Wahab Sheikh, Danny Sapani,
PRODUCER: Danny Boyle, Christian Colson
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
SCRIPT: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony Dod Mantle
EDITOR: Jon Harris
MUSIC: Rick Smith
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Tildesley
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 4, 2013