At least my second trip to the cinema didn’t involve a carefully planned trek across the city since this film is showing at the local multiplex. This violent gory crime thriller from Danny Boyle is smart and full of misdirection and it had my attention throughout. I’ve a feeling I’ll get more out of a second viewing since it is a film that has a reveal in the last act that changes what you know but this is set-up earlier in the film. I’m a sucker for crime thrillers with convoluted plots and this film certainly delivers.
This film starts out as a heist film with a light-hearted cheerful voice-over from Simon (James McAvoy) a junior auctioneer at a large auction house who gives us a bit of background on the subject of art heists from auction houses that has resulted in increased security measures by the auction houses and staff being drilled on the procedures to protect the art while keeping themselves safe. Then Simon mentions that the thieves have also upped their game in response to these measures.
This leads straight into the heist itself. Goya’s Floating Witches is up for sale when the thieves strike with smoke bombs in the auction room while other members of the gang take care of the security. Simon grabs the painting and takes it to the safe and the security procedures all go to plan but one of the thieves Franck (Vincent Cassel) is waiting by the safe. He orders Simon to hand over the painting but for some reason Simon grabs a taser from Franck and zaps him in the back of the neck. This only pisses off Franck who smacks Simon over the head with the taser then he grabs the painting and runs.
Simon ends up in hospital getting emergency surgery to treat the injury to his head. Meanwhile Franck discovers that all he has stolen is an empty picture frame and the painting is missing. As soon as he gets out of hospital Simon gets grabbed by Franck’s gang who beat and torture him to find out what he did with the painting but it’s useless because he has amnesia and genuinely can’t remember. Franck even gets confirmation from the doctor at the hospital who can’t do anything medically to help restore Simon’s memory but suggests hypnotherapy might work.
Going with the doctor’s suggestion Franck gets Simon to pick a hypnotherapist and he chooses Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson). Simon is told to get her to help without revealing what they are really after so he tells her that he is after his lost car keys. Elizabeth knows that Simon is not telling her the truth and quickly finds out his real name. She succeeds in helping him to find the car keys but not the painting so Franck wants Simon to try again.
This time Elizabeth knows what is really going on and she wants in on it. She insists that Simon is subconsciously blocking his memories because he thinks Franck and his gang will kill him once they have the painting. Elizabeth has to make Simon feel safe before she can unlock his memory of where he left the painting.
From this point the film starts twisting around quite a bit and characters and motives shift around as it turns out that the painting is the not the only thing that has been stolen but so have Simon’s memories. When the film does come to its final twist it has being set-up with enough hints so it certainly doesn’t come out of the blue and while surprising it does make sense.
This is an interesting crime thriller that reminds me of Danny Boyle’s earlier more intimate films like Shallow Grave. Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel deliver great performances and James McAvoy is certainly convincing as the lovable rogue and though the changes in his character are bit less convincing he does give it a go. This film looks great and it has a decent soundtrack but then Boyle is film-maker who knows how to make good use of music. It is pretty brutal at times there are a couple of memorable gory scenes. There’s also sex and nudity from all three leads though not all at the same time.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Trance REVIEW “superlative visual feat masking a less than perfect erotic thriller” (noframeof.com)
- Luna Guthrie Reviews ‘Trance’ (archantnorfolk.wordpress.com)