Vibrant, genre-subverting thriller contains trio of assured performances
Director Danny Boyle has a flair for making vibrant, zeitgeist-capturing films about characters in extreme situations ultimately overcoming the odds – whether it’s an Edinburgh heroin addict in Trainspotting, a teenaged Mumbai orphan accused of cheating in the final of India’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in Slumdog Millionaire, or a marooned hiker forced to saw off his own trapped arm in 27 Hours. Boyle’s latest, the genre-blending Trance – an entertaining remake of Joe Ahearne’s identically named 2001 TV movie – continues this tradition.
The unreliable narrator is Simon (James McAvoy), an employee of a prestigious London auction house, who’s the inside man on an art heist carried out by French gangster Franck (Vincent Cassel). Knocked over by a red car during his escape, Simon is diagnosed with amnesia, and Franck insists on finding out the whereabouts of the rare Goya painting that was stolen. Once torture has failed to deliver the necessary information, a beautiful Harley Street hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) is tasked with helping Simon to retrieve his buried memories.
Digitally shot with real panache by regular Boyle cinematographer Antony Dod Mantle, there’s much to enjoy here, including the multiple deceptions of the double-crossing participants, the trio of assured performances, and the stylised interiors of the characters’ voguish apartments. Yet it remains, like Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects very much what Quentin Tarantino would call a ‘movie-movie’, a self-aware, genre-subverting piece of postmodernism, which culminates in a deliberately OTT finale. Unlike the best Nick Roeg or David Lynch or Christopher Nolan films, it lacks the emotional power that might haunt a viewer’s memory.
General release from Wed 27 Mar.