In between producing the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics, director Danny Boyle managed to film Trance, and outdoes himself, combining romance, action, thriller and science fiction all into one gummy mix for those who like something to chew on.

Irish actor James McAvoy plays Simon, a fine arts auctioneer who joins hands with Franck (Vincent Cassel), the ringleader of a syndicate of thieves, to steal Goya’s art piece ‘Witches in the Air’, which is worth millions. In trying to keep the art for himself, Simon suffers memory loss from a hit to his head by Franck’s shotgun. Franck and his 3 cronies try to get Simon to reveal where the stolen painting is, as he can’t remember where he put it. They hire hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to try to spark his memory, and that’s when the craziness begins.

If you enjoyed the Ocean’s films and other heist films like The Bank Job or The Italian Job, don’t get too hopeful with this one. The heist element of the film pretty much ends when Simon gets knocked on the head, although the end game could be a heist of sorts. Fans of Inception can look forward to more mind-boggling moments as Trance takes viewers in and out of reality, and the visions created by Simon’s mind as a result of the hypnotherapy are similar to the ones in Total Recall.

As the movie progresses, Simon’s memory slowly starts to return and you get pulled from reality and thrown into memories and induced visions, and this is when it gets confusing. Just as you start to think that what you’re seeing is the reality, a gory, definitely imagined scene (a mouth still moving while the head is being carved in half) counters your supposition. You never exactly know when the hypnotherapy-induced visions begin or when reality ends. It lures you into a false sense of contentment having figured out the plot and conclusion, only to have your derivative disproved by the hypnotherapist snapping in your face. It’s a brilliantly crafted mix of reality, memories and induced visions, though bit too overpowering at times.

Danny Boyle’s laying all his cards on the table works out for those who appreciate the director’s works, such as Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later, but the mélange of themes and styles may confuse some.

The injection of visually mesmerising sequences and action scenes that awake your inner James Bond are effective distractions from the knotty, convoluted plot, and this is also where hypnotherapist Elizabeth’s seductiveness helps to keep the audience awake. Dawson’s performance is reminiscent of her provocative dancer character Mimi in musical Rent!. Aside from that, her performance doesn’t leave an impression and neither do the other characters, except perhaps for Cassel, whose disposition as a thief was as convincing and delightful as in the Ocean’s films, where he played villainous con-artist extraordinaire, Toulour.

As confounding and puzzling as the film is, it does its job of entertaining with instances of humour through McAvoy’s lilting Irish accent. The movie questions your ability to retain and discard memories, and it all boils down to what the hypnotherapist poses to Franck in the end. “The choice is yours. Do you want to remember, or do you want to forget?”


Rating: 3/5

Release Date: May 1

Runtime: 1 hr 41 min

Language: English

Censorship rating: M 18

Genre: Drama/Action

Director: Danny Boyle

Main actors: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel

 Photos courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.