In Danny Boyle's latest film, we see James McAvoy's character Simon steal a Goya painting mid-auction - and then promptly forget where he's hidden it, thanks to an unplanned cosh on the head from his accomplice, played by Vincent Cassell. To help him remember, McAvoy enlists the help of Rosario Dawson's Elizabeth Lamb, a successful hypnotherapist. And then things start to get complicated. This is celluloid pizza. It doesn't just wear its influences on its sleeve, it cannibalises them. We start with Spike Lee's Inside Man, before moving on to The Thomas Crown Affair and ending up with Charlie Kaufmann's The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with a dash of Cape Fear just for good measure.
Some reviewers have described this movie as sexy. I'd argue that Trance is the opposite of sex. It is charmless and wit-free. You don't believe in any of the central relationships and in place in character development we have pointless plot twists. And I would like someone to explain to me why it's okay to show a naked woman with a shaved vagina on the big screen but you can't show a penis? What's that about?
What has Danny Boyle done? He told Shortlist magazine that he realised that he hadn't made a film with a woman at the centre before. I pray he never does so again. This is a deeply misogynistic film whose basic premise is this: women are the root of all evil. There you go; something goes wrong, blame it on someone with a vagina. Isn't that the Taliban argument? Rosario's character is objectified throughout. At first, she's a ballbreaker able to manipulate men to her own selfish ends, then suddenly she's a sexual submissive shaving off her pubic hair to please her lover. Apparently, she wheedles and connives just for the hell of it. At no point are we given any explanation why she desires Goya's Witches in the Air so much, she is willing to put not just her own life on the line, but the lives of scores of others. She doesn't appear to need the money - we see she has her own successful hypnotherapy practice. Are we supposed to believe that she goes through all this just because she is bored?
I'm calling this Boyle's mid-life crisis movie. Apparently Dawson and Boyle started dating while filming. After playing a succession of thankless wife and girlfriend roles, I can understand Dawson's desire to play something a little meatier, but I'd advise her against working with Boyle again - unless he teams up with a female scriptwriter. But somehow I can't see that happening.
This is a horrible mess of a film. It left me feeling queasy. You'd be advised to stay well clear.