Film: 'Trance', directed by Dannny Boyle

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 September, 2013, 8:48am


James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel

Director: Danny Boyle

This too-clever-by-half urban thriller sets out to mess with your mind but ends up more testing your patience as the action flitters in and out of what its characters are supposed to think is real and what is imagined.

In lesser hands than Danny Boyle's you might be tempted to bring it all to an early close but his style saves the day, as does the performance of Rosario Dawson, who simply dominates proceedings as a hypnotist with questionable ethics, and motivation.

The script sees Joe Ahearne reworking a story he had made into a TV movie with the help of regular Boyle collaborator John Hodge and they throw the dialogue at you from the very first frames, setting up the premise - an art heist gone wrong - with long stretches of voiceover. It's a trick that's repeated by the story's end, too - just when there's a good chance you'll have no idea what's actually going on.

And we can put this down to either the fact that they were unsure in the end that their audience could keep up with the constant on-rush of developments - again, real or imagined - or the fact they knew that whatever the case was, we'd be more concentrated on what Boyle was up to. And it's true that there are long stretches where you might find yourself forgetting who's doing what to whom and just following the dazzling imagery, as Boyle flickers and floats his way around London.

It's almost impossible to take your eyes off Dawson as her character slowly reveals her true intent, and some rather old-school attitudes to grooming, while Vincent Cassel throws in his by-now expected good turn as the charismatic crime boss trying to make sense of it all (and he's not alone there).

But James McAvoy presents a dilemma all of his own. Suddenly we are asked to question whether one of cinema's great cheeky chaps is all he's made out to be. It comes as the last in a long line of twists and turns that make the whole production a little bit more trouble than it's really worth.

Extras: The Power of Suggestion: "Making Trance", "Hypnotherapy", "The Look", "The Final Rewrite" featurettes, theatrical trailer.

Mathew Scott