'Trance' Review: Director Danny Boyle Puts Us Through Delirious Mental Workout

Danny Boyle’s dreamland psycho-thriller Trance elevates plot-knotting mind games to a delirious new level. It would be wrong to say too much about the story’s ever-deepening complications, and difficult to do so in any case. Let’s just say this:

James McAvoy plays Simon, an employee at a London fine-art auction house. One day a Goya painting called “Witches in the Air”--pointedly featuring a man groping about blindly with a sheet over his head--draws a winning bid of more than $40-million. At just this moment, a group of what I suppose would have to be called art thugs bursts into the auction room, led by the decidedly un-thuglike Franck (Vincent Cassel--throw a sporty scarf on him and he’d fit right into an Hermès ad).

As tear-gas canisters roll across the floor, Simon grabs the Goya and runs off to hide it downstairs. When Franck eventually confronts him, there’s a tussle; Simon gets knocked on the head, and when he awakes from a coma in the hospital a few days later, he has no recollection of where he hid the painting.

Then we learn that Simon was in on the theft. And now that he’s claiming not to recall the painting’s current location, Franck--after expressing his displeasure in a most painful way--decides to take him to a hypnotherapist, a woman named Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), to recover his buried memory.

Read the full review at Reason.com


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