|Film review: Trance|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Wednesday, 27 March 2013 18:00|
Director: Danny Boyle
“It used to be that all you needed was a lot of nerve..."
That's auctioneer Simon (McAvoy) talking to us about how to steal a work of art. On those grounds, Danny Boyle would be an exceptional thief - because Trance hasn't just got nerves; it's got balls. It's got balls coming out of its ears.
But like all good heist films, Trance is a heist in its own right.
As Simon and his male cohorts (led by a deliciously lothario Vincent Cassell) carry out their inside job, he gets knocked on the head, forgetting where the painting is. Enter hypnotist Elizabeth Lamb (Dawson) - and just when you think you’re watching a movie about art, Trance turns into a psychological heist about breaking into someone’s mind.
But Boyle was there first. And just when your eyes have a handle on the vibrant colours and constant Dutch tilts, he pulls another fast one – revealing that this isn’t really his heist at all. We’re actually watching something completely different.
Heists inside heists inside heists? People have compared Trance to Inception, but Danny Boyle’s enjoyably messy mind-bender is closer to Side Effects, a scrappy slide through genres that takes tropes like the femme fatale and flips them inside out. Loading the psycho-babble with dingy gore and shameless nudity, Boyle proves himself every bit the British Steven Soderbergh – a versatile filmmaker who can easily change his spots but never lost his B-movie stripes.
“Amnesia is bollocks,” laughs one of Cassell’s henchmen early on, but Joe Ahearne and John Hodge’s script moves fast enough to make you believe their hypnosis clap-trap. Whether there’s much depth to the story beyond a technical exercise, though, is questionable. Still, Rosario Dawson and James McAvoy give a big emotional wallop to their central relationship, slinking between sexy chemistry and scary violence with surprising intensity.
The whole thing may fall to pieces when you think about it a few weeks later, but when Trance is in full flow, you won’t be able to look away. What it lacks in brilliance, it makes up for in balls - and Boyle, that cosy national treasure after the 2012 Olympics, isn’t afraid to astonish you as he chops each of them off, one by one.