If there is one thing director Danny Boyle excels at it is creating tension. Following the fantastic success of his films Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours comes Trance, starring Glaswegian James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class) alongside exotic New York beauty Rosario Dawson (Death Proof) and Parisian Vincent Cassel (Black Swan). The suspense-filled thriller lives up to all the hype audiences have come to expect from Boyle.
Fast-paced right from the off, Trance begins with Simon (McAvoy), an indebted gambling addict and fine art auctioneer, who teams up with a criminal gang led by Franck (Cassel) in order to obtain a very valuable painting by Goya. The heist doesn’t go to plan and in the mayhem that ensues Simon receives a nasty blow to the head, losing not just the painting but a significant part of his memory too.
Simon awakes in hospital a hero, having apparently thwarted the criminals’ attempt to steal the painting. However, it is soon learnt that Simon was actually in cahoots with the criminals when they turn up looking for the painting – the whereabouts of which is now lost deep in Simon’s subconscious. The knowledge is buried so deep that even the extraction of Simon’s fingernails can’t jog his memory (a rather stomach churning scene to say the least) and the unlikely gang resort to the next best thing: hypnotherapy on Harley Street.
Boyle’s ability to produce sequences of events that are both suspenseful and shocking, fun and emotive is what makes him one of the most prolific directors of the contemporary film industry. Trance endeavours to confuse its audience with continuous twists that both make and in some ways break the overall success of the story. The only criticism of Boyle’s masterpiece is the number of times Simon suffers an anagnorisis; after having his hypnotherapy sessions with the beautiful Elizabeth (Dawson), Simon forgets his priorities and his true identity.
Trance is based in and around London with no more than about half a dozen main actors. The intensity between the characters is highlighted through Boyle’s professional direction. McAvoy in particular comes up trumps as the self-preserving Simon, while Cassel is perfectly cast as the gang-leader – though you are never sure whose side he is on.
Boyle has done a stellar job with Trance and will hopefully reap the benefits of yet another full-on film. Definitely worth a gamble – you are likely to be hypnotised throughout!
Trance is released nationwide on 27th March 2013.
Watch the trailer for Trance here: