The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Trance | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Trance

A blow to the head causes an art auctioneer to forget where he stashed a stolen painting during a robbery.

Directed by: Danny Boyle
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel

Simon (McAvoy), an employee at an upscale London art auctioneers, manages to stash away a £25 million valued Goya painting during a robbery masterminded by art thief Franck (Cassel), who knocks him unconscious before leaving with what he thinks is the painting. When Simon comes to he has no recollection of exactly where he hid the painting. Returning to his home after a spell in hospital, Simon is accosted by Franck and his henchmen who torture him for the location of the painting. Accepting Simon's amnesia, Franck sends him to hypno-therapist Elizabeth who he hopes can retrieve the information from his memory.
A remake of a 2001 TV movie, 'Trance' lives up to its name by putting you under a couple of times, thanks to its uninvolving and clumsily handled narrative. Boyle and his scriptwriter, John Hodge, have created a crossword puzzle of a film but, thanks to a series of plot-holes and character inconsistencies, it's a crossword that's been filled in incorrectly. Snappy editing and glossy visuals can't hide the fact that "three across" stops making sense when Boyle later tackles "seven down". Of course, a messy plot doesn't necessarily make for a bad film, but that's really all 'Trance' has going for it, save for some impressive visuals from cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle.
None of the characters of this tale are remotely engaging or realistic. Cassell's character is interchangeable with the similarly cartoon villain he portrayed in 'Ocean's Twelve'. McAvoy never convinces as someone who is any sort of danger so it's hard for the viewer to engage with his plight. Most troubling is the treatment of Dawson's therapist, at times ascending to such heights of misogyny as to leave a nasty taste in the mouth. I'm fine with her explicit nudity, (arguably the most graphic of its kind in contemporary mainstream film and a welcome distraction for any heterosexual male viewers), it's the actions of her character that are troubling, especially given the film's third act reveal. The film-makers can't decide whether they're making a breezy caper movie or a dark and gritty crime flick. 'Trance' is mildly enjoyable when it goes for the former approach, downright nasty when it veers further into the latter in the film's second half.
Boyle shot this film while working on the opening ceremony for last year's London Olympics and it feels very much a side project, made just to remind us Boyle is still around. Do we care anymore?