A disturbing tale of obsession, greed and yearning, “Trance” blows our minds with fiendishly engaging logic and delivers on its promise to keep us hypnotized from start to finish.
The story of an art auctioneer named Simon (James McAvoy), an art house heist, an attempted double-cross of the criminal gang he’s collaborated with, amnesia and a hypnotist sounds like a thin premise.
But trust me when I say this: There’s a lot more to “Trance” than meets the eye for moviegoers willing to travel beneath the surface of the mind.
I give director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting,” “Slumdog Millionaire”) two points for maintaining a believable sense of continuity between the real and unreal. The transition from the dreamy moments of suggestion to the stark reality of what’s happening is so seamless that you’re fooled into thinking something happened when it never actually did. Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud to see the meticulous amount of detail that Boyle put in to construct a truly hypnotic atmosphere.
Twists and turns emerge with precision timing, eliciting discomfort and apprehension at the right moments.
The tension keeps building up as each scene plays out and never stops progressing, producing the edge-of-your-seat sentiment that we crave to experience when watching a thriller. Every sentence heightens, not weakens, the suspense and keeps the story on its toes. For a film that doesn’t revolve around guns being the center of attention, the clever dialogue holds our interest and makes us want to see what will occur next.
As for the mystery element of the story, it does require considerable thought in order to process what is happening, but it doesn’t force us to think too much. Brainpower is necessary for us moviegoers to comprehend how the events fall into place, but we are never forced to burn out our psyches. Thus, the film achieves the primary objective of a thriller.
“Unpredictable” is the best way to describe the three main characters, and their agendas. There are multiple instances where you will experience genuine shock at the characters’ true selves, and what they have been working towards all this time.
The three main cast members — James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, and Rosario Dawson — are to be commended for their non-movie star charismatic presences in this mind-boggling psychological thriller.
McAvoy’s ability to portray a character with so many layers that he may or may not be aware of is irresistible and engaging. Cassel handles himself well as gang leader Franck, whose “villainous” role contains more surprises than you’d expect to see in his character.
While he may not come off as menacing, he substitutes that aura with ever-increasing frustration and desperation. The true standout, however, is Dawson, who pretty much personifies the spellbinding maze presented by the film. As Dr. Elizabeth Lamb, she approaches her profession with methodical dominance, and such a tactic reaches maximum efficiency when she utilizes her birthday suit to get the answer out of Simon in one of the film’s most powerful scenes.
You’ll find yourself never wanting to look away when you decide to request the services of “Trance.”
MPAA rating: R for sexual content, graphic nudity, some grisly images, and language
Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes
Playing: General release