Danny Boyle’s Trance is a loose remake of writer-director Joe Ahearne’s 2001 TV movie about art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy), who conspires with a gang of thieves – including, their ruthless boss (Vincent Cassel) – to steal a coveted Goya masterpiece from a public auction. However, things go sour during the robbery and Simon winds up bloodied and knocked out with (he claims) no memory of where the precious artwork’s been stashed.
Rosario Dawson (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) costars as the hypnotist recruited to recover the truth from Simon’s damaged psyche; though, she may have ulterior motives. Thus, stakes rise higher and danger grows once Simon’s internal journey starts blurring the line between the truth and which memories are the suggestions of a master manipulator.
The trailer teases the visual devices Boyle employs to leave viewers as confounded and uncertain as Trance‘s addled protagonist. That includes frame-cutting, messing with the focus and uncomfortable angles. Besides that, there are stylistic choices (split-screens, high-energy editing) that call back to the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s work on movies like Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours.
McAvoy doesn’t always get the proper attention as a solid – and versatile – leading man (see: Atonement, Wanted), but Trance provides him another chance to shine. Similarly, Cassel’s often a scene-stealer (see: Black Swan, A Dangerous Method) and he shouldn’t disappoint as a nasty criminal; the same goes for Dawson as the femme fatale character in Trance‘s Noir(ish) narrative.
Boyle didn’t have a hand in writing Trance, instead drawing from a script co-penned by Ahearne and Oscar-nominee John Hodge (Trainspotting, The Beach). On the one hand, it’s a much more linear story than the director’s last two pictures – the time-jumping Slumdog and 127 Hours – complete with an easily-identifiable MacGuffin. Then again, this is the sort of crime-thriller that lives (or dies) by its ability to keep viewers guessing, be it about which characters are telling the truth or who will walk away alive (at the end of the day).
All that considered, Trance seems a good match for Boyle’s sensibilities because he thrives at telling stories in the exhilarating and visceral fashion called for by the premise. It’s definitely something the filmmaker’s fans should consider keeping an eye out for.
Trance doesn’t have a U.S. release date yet, but expect it in theaters sometime this year.