reviewed by Tom-Tom
Art theft has evolved or so we are told in the exciting opening moments of “Trance” by James McAvoy’s character Simon. The film is directed by Danny Boyle, whose films always have a great sense of pace and urgency and exhibit sensory images as pain with stunning visuals. This is demonstrated early on as Frank’s (Vince Cassel) goons rip out Simon’s fingernails after he fails to pass a painting on to complete his part in the heist. Simon suffers a head injury and can’t remember what he actually did with the work of art titled Witches in the Air. Of all things, hypnotism is sought out. I must admit, I was prepared for some tongue in cheek scenes but then I saw Rosario Dawson as Elizabeth Lamb, the hypnotist. She certainly has a great voice. It turns out Simon is quite suggestible and she is able to have him give his real name and find his memory of where his car keys are in under a minute. Lamb susses that Simon is in trouble and arranges to meet Frank and his goons. There are a series of hypno-theraputic sessions which are all dramatized beautifully. Boyle balances all of these scenes wonderfully until we get to the point where we aren’t quite sure which is real or which is fantasy.
The Inception like nature of these scenes can be quite confusing but they also build suspense as we attempt to figure out which is the real reality. It’s not a really airtight reason in the end but neither was Fight Club or Ryan Gosling’s Stay. It is an intriguing twist of events much more compelling and satisfying than McAvoy’s Filth in which he also employed his disarmingly charming native Scottish accent. I came away from this film respecting the skill and beauty of Rosario Dawson even more than before and the seemingly effortless way Danny Boyle seems to be able to put together a thoughtful, violent, sexy, complicated mystery and keep it together until the rather graphic and shocking end. The last 20 minutes literally had me on the edge of my seat with all character roles up in the air. I wish all my mind screws were this satisfying rather than the “Huh? That’s it?” endings of films like Enemy.