Release Date
April 5, 2013
Danny Boyle
Joe Ahearne
John Hodge
Distributed By
Fox Searchlight Pictures
$20 million
Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language
101 minutes


Danny Boyle wastes nothing in his latest psychological thriller “Trance”. It is electrifying and suspenseful from start to fiery finish. Delving deep into the world of hypnosis and art heisting, the erratic nature of the film allows for building layers of shifting memories into different plots. In doing so, the viewer is submerged in the pulling twists and turns of the fractured narrative, until they are spit out at the thought provoking end. With hidden subtexts and eventual revelations, the audience learns as the characters do, the true sign of an effective thriller.

At the helm is leading man James McAvoy as Simon, a gambling addicted art auctioneer. As soon as we hear his description of art theft history and the protocol in case of a robbery, we know what we’re in for. Rule one when getting robbed: don’t be a hero. But of course, good drama is in the breaking of rules, so when thieves come for Goya’s “Witches In The Air”, Simon uses a taser on our resident head bad guy, Franck (Vincent Cassel), and gets pummeled in the head for his efforts. But his reason for stepping up shifts with the development of the plot.

When we next see Simon, he is in the hospital with severe head trauma and partial amnesia. Upon release, Franck and his goons are waiting, with an empty painting briefcase and no idea where Simon stashed the Goya. After torture proves ineffective, Franck lands on hypnosis to help jog Simon’s memory, handing him an iPad and telling him to pick his doctor. Simon picks Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) because he likes the name. Under a pseudonym, wearing a wire, and telling her he needs to find his car keys, Simon visits Elizabeth, who sees right through the charade and enters into the fray of this frantic, life or death search for the missing painting.

Dawson is at her showstopping best, with a sexy and commanding performance surrounded by an aura of femme fatale. Just as he does with Dawson, Boyle has a way of producing strong female characters, most prevalent in “28 Days Later” with Naomie Harris. Although one could argue that there are very few redeeming characteristics in any of these players, James McAvoy and Vincent Cassel both deliver adequate showings and create a fresh, intriguing take on the heist thriller. To top it off, Boyle adds a stylish flair to almost every frame of the film, producing a trippy escape into the streets of New York City.
One of his most ambition films to date, “Trance” becomes one of my personal favorites of Danny Boyle’s work. There’s a spark of genius that sets his films apart, giving them a touch of artistry unlike any of his peers. Despite its downfalls, like a constantly changing tone and unlikable characters, there’s still a poetic, heartbreaking nature to “Trance” that sweeps you in and never lets go. Boyle may not be the most visionary director of his time, but he can still produce a highly entertaining film.


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