So, Nudity? You people. Fine, there are a couple lingering James McAvoy butt shots, and he has a lengthy shirtless scene. All of which pales before the majesty of full frontal Rosario Dawson, however.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three and a half Goyas out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: British museum people are still hypersensitive about art heists, for some reason.
Tagline: "Inside the mind. Outside the law."
Better Tagline: "Sorry, did you miss the part about nude Rosario Dawson?"
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) is the hero of the hour, having bravely tried to stop the theft of a priceless Goya. Except that he really didn't. Simon was in cahoots with the thieves, led by Franck (Vincent Cassel). A snafu in the hand-off results in Simon suffering a head wound and subsequent memory loss. Bad news for him, since he can't remember where he hid the painting he was planning to steal for himself. They turn to hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) for help, but even she may not be who she seems.
"Critical" Analysis: Danny Boyle has about as solid a track record as any director around. At worst, his movies could be called "uneven" (A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach), but he maneuvers between genres like horror, sci-fi and family-friendly caper with ease, and several of his films are high on my rewatchability list (especially Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Millions)
Trance is, in several ways, a textbook Boyle film, meaning there's a lot of lip service given to larger themes (here, it's the fickle nature of identity) bracketed by scenes of alarming violence. Boyle likes to keep things bloody, often shockingly so, and there are at least two scenes here that will have you wincing noticeably (a fellow critic sitting next to me, who shall remain nameless, actually yelled, "No! NO!" during one of these).
It's visually distinctive as well. Granted, the city of London doesn't need a lot of enhancement, and Boyle captures many sides of it: the classic architecture of Simon's art gallery. The seamy industrialism of the scrap iron works where the gang holes up, and the 21st century club that serves as Franck's HQ. The city is almost a character unto itself. And there are other nifty touches, such as the way Boyle uses highway cloverleafs to connote synaptic activity, or a scene involving a fire extinguisher that simply has to be a shout-out to Cassel's appearance in Gaspar Noé's Irréversible.
Even if the movie threatens at times to become a case study in the teal and orange phenomenon.
The humans measure up just fine as well. McAvoy leverages his boyish good looks (enjoy 'em while you can, kid) in an increasingly unsympathetic role, and Dawson becomes more believable when she drops the coldly clinical facade. Meanwhile, Cassel is an obvious choice for the bad guy, because A) he's French; B) he sports a perpetually snotty expression, possibly as a result of being French; and C) he's having regular carnal knowledge of one of the most beautiful women on the planet.
But by film's end, the plot hasn't exactly taken us anywhere particularly unexpected, even as we're played out by the familiar strains of composer Rick Smith, another Boyle regular. Trance isn't the director's best by a long shot, but it's a perfectly serviceable thriller with all Boyle's trademark flourishes.
See It/Rent It/Skip It: See it. You deserve something mildly challenging before the glut of summer lobotomies.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.