Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassell
After directing the bombastic British Olympic opening ceremony, (Sir) Danny Boyle's next feature was always going to seem a little understated. Trance is a psychological crime thriller that sees fine art auctioneer Simon (McAvoy), suffer from memory loss after the botched robbery of a multi-million pound piece. Under pressure from the criminals who orchestrated the heist, a hypnotherapist is recruited in an attempt to locate the missing painting, the whereabouts of which are deeply hidden within Simon's subconscious mind.
Strongly channelling the likes of Christopher Nolan's fantastic Memento and Inception, Boyle's direction helps to deal with the theme of amnesia in a very mature and intricate way. As the plot unravels, so too does Simon's psyche; and the deeper the audience delves into the recesses of his mind, the greater the reward in terms of tension, emotion and characterisation. Similar to Hitchcock's Spellbound, the films most intriguing moments are the sequences that take place within the protagonist's subconscious, and the direction during these scenes sit nicely amongst Boyle's credible filmography.
However, whilst both of Nolan's memory thrillers are rewardingly concluded, Joe Ahearne and John Hodge's screenplay for Trance seems to fall apart a little towards the end. For a film in which the stakes are constantly high due to money, greed, mistrust, sexuality and psychology - the dénouement seems to tie up the drama somewhat clumsily, which undermines the final set piece and leaves it feeling a little televisual. There are also a couple of moments within Trance, both involving genitals, which seem a little out of place given the film's broader themes - with one shot resulting in spontaneous laughter during the screening I attended.
Although the film is a little untamed and features some baffling choices in terms of story, there is a lot within Trance to enjoy. Danny Boyle's stylish direction helps to smooth over the mistakes within the screenplay and results in a gripping, interesting and hypnotic crime movie that for the most part keeps the audience guessing.