movie starring James McAvoy, I compared its style to Trainspotting. I guess it was inevitable the next movie I reviewed in which McAvoy descends into madness and hallucination would be directed by Danny Boyle, the director of Trainspotting.
Trance (2013) begins with a setup Alfred Hitchcock might have found appealing. Simon (McAvoy) is an art auctioneer involved in a scheme led by Franck (Vincent Cassel) to steal a priceless painting. However, he rips off the gang and makes off with the painting, but in the chaos of the robbery, Simon is struck in the head by Franck and develops amnesia, so he can't remember where he left the painting or why he wanted to double-cross Franck. After torture fails to get the information, Franck sends Simon to a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth, (Rosario Dawson) to extract the lost memory of the stolen painting from Simon's brain.
For the first forty minutes or so, I was intrigued with Trance (though not entranced). The film initially builds around three questions: where is the painting, why did Simon take it, and what role will Elizabeth play? When the crooks first send Simon to Elizabeth, they tell to him to pretend he's looking for his car keys, but very quickly, she realizes there's more going on than what Simon is telling her. That's an interesting concept because he's trying to both find and hide the truth, but Boyle jettisons this strategy soon after and includes her in the scheme.
But after a while, the movie loses steam. That's the challenge with these real-or-unreal narratives: if you keep piling on effect upon effect and don't seem to be getting anywhere, eventually the viewer is going to lose patience and just stop caring. I know I did. The film opens with a lot of momentum - a robbery, a double cross, torture, a mystery, a desperate medical procedure- but by the halfway mark or so, everything becomes bogged down. And worse, when the big secret of Simon and Elizabeth's past is revealed, Boyle has to halt everything to explain it. The best twists are the ones that propel the suspense and pull all the plot threads tight. In this case, the twist is just too convoluted and uninteresting.