When an auctioneer becomes entangled in a botched art heist, suffering a concussion in the process, a coveted piece of work is lost in his to the depths of his mind. He and his criminal cohorts solicit the help of a beautiful hypnotist to recover his memories, but when the line between reality and recall is blurred, nothing can be believed, and with millions of dollars up for grabs, no one can be trusted.
Who’s in It?
The trio making up this intimate psychological drama are Rosario Dawson, James McEvoy, and Vincent Cassel. It is one very attractive bunch.
Danny Boyle’s films may not always be the most comfortable to watch, but wow are they engaging. From an opening that sees McAvoy’s Simon give a voice over about security protocols as a heist is attempted, Trance an immersive, smart, and adult experience that challenges your senses and envelopes you in intrigue and suspense.
What seems to nod at a crime thriller or caper in the start becomes a much smaller and compelling offering about the professional and personal relationships of three apparent strangers and the apparent universalities of greed and lust. It is a story bathed in bright lights and neon colours, underscored with a pulsating electronic soundtrack, and told with flashbacks and altered states of consciousnesses that may or may not be completely real.
Simon has gotten involve with Franck, a violent, charming, yet nuanced thief who wants a prized Goya. A bump on the head during the robbery leaves Simon without recollection of where said Goya is, and so start a mysterious, intense and wonderfully-told quest to unlock his memory.
Quickly our characters are not as they seem. Simon is not just the precocious hero, Franck is not just the malevolent criminal, and Dr. Elizabeth Lamb (Dawson) is not just the innocent professional bystander. There is a moment of something, recollection perhaps, when she meets Simon for the first time. It is a subtle look, but Boyle in this moment and so many others shares just the right amount of information with the audience. His goal is neither to telegraph the story nor excessively twist around the plot. It is as much about the ending as it is the journey and experience, and Boyle cares not to make you look like a fool or betray your trust.
The only thick metaphor in all of this is his role of the hypnotist. He lures you in with sights and sounds, disarms you with charm, and puts you in a, well, trance. Sometimes what you experience is not pleasant – there is a fair amount of blood and violence—and sometimes it is – there is a fair amount of sex and nudity. You simply have to trust he knows what he is doing, that in the end you will come out having, if not learned something, at least gained some new memories.
Should You See It?
Yes, and pay close attention. And no operating heavy machinery afterwards, you may still be under the film’s spell.
The power of the game, according to Dr. Lamb: “You can make them want to do almost anything.”