Rated: R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 5, 2013 Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Danny Boyle was working on this feverish mobbish strip of a movie while thrilling Opening Ceremony viewers at last year's London Olympics.
Trance is a heist movie and knotty psychological thriller that hardly bores but doesn't quite captivate in the way that the director has done with a visual energy that here may have somewhat of a gratuitous edge to it. Trying to unravel the reality of it all from varying perspectives won't exude the kind of resonance in similar tricky mind-benders like Memento or more recently Inception which merited repeat viewings.
Still, the premise and lead actors who include James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, and Vincent Cassel are enticing enough to take willing onlookers through a rabbit hole with more than its share of shifting and reversing.
The first genre is clear enough through McAvoy's Simon, an art auction employee suffering from heavy poker losses. He turns to the headstrong criminal Franck (Cassel of Black Swan) and his band of art thieves to carefully pilfer a Goya 1797 prized painting 'Witches in the Air.' A little hitch in their slick scheming in which Simon's struck in the head leads to a torturous interlude and then lovely hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Dawson) to try and reach into his thought processing to see where he could have placed it.
Obviously, it's important to emphasize the filmmakers necessity to keep plot developments under wraps to preserve the pleasures of anyone to see how it all is divulged. McAvoy (Welcome To The Punch and X-Men: First Class as Prof. Xavier) has caught the eye of many and here is watchable in character caught amid chicanery and pruriency while trying to navigate his subconscious. An ably Cassel has the strong, vicious, even sensitive personality that serves the interactions well in the multiple convolutions. Though maybe perceived as less of a layered role, Elizabeth is a charismatic, revelatory presence as done by Dawson (now off-screen linked with Doyle) dialed down to capriciously mindful effect.
Doyle often skillfully draws from a movie from co-writer Joe Ahearne as well as earlier collaborations from Ahearne's partner John Hodge like Trainspotting and Shallow Grave to invite a trippy, stylish tour with neon glow and electronic reverberations. Maybe there isn't quite the control over a glossy labyrinth that would yield something truly transfixing or poignantly entrancing rather than a cool, if wrenching and oh so carefully detailed cinematic exercise.