Trance, Danny Boyle’s latest, uses hypnotherapy to venture deep into James McAvoy’s head, aiming to find out the location of a missing painting after an art heist goes wrong. Appropriately, it’s more a film for the head than the heart, presenting an interesting, intricate puzzle that keeps you thinking long after the film is over …even if the emotional aspect’s a touch undercooked. The story is carefully constructed to drop sufficient clues to let you know that things aren’t quite as they seem early on; nonetheless plenty of surprises remain.
The leads acquit themselves well: Cassel isn’t given much to do, but Dawson embodies her femme fatale role with self-assurance and McAvoy has an easy charm, like a young Ewan McGregor. The film has an excellent soundtrack and memorable visuals (I’m not talking about Rosario Dawson’s full frontal nudity, either, though I’m certainly not complaining); it’s not as trippy as you’d expect from the title, though Boyle cleverly uses recurring motifs throughout, often creating a striking image before recontextualising it later on. Trance is most successful in its last act, where the storyline threads converge in an action-packed sequence, smartly written and directed with imagination and deft use of colour.