Complete A-Z list



Stars: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Danny Sapani, Matt Cross, Wahab Poltimore, Tuppence Middleton

Director: Danny Boyle

Director Danny Boyle’s last magnum opus boasted a budget of millions of pounds and a cast of thousands, to say nothing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in a cameo role opposite 007 Daniel Craig himself.

Sensible for his next effort, Boyle has contented himself with a far, far less than Olympic-level budget and much smaller but essentially ideal cast led by James McAvoy to create, from a rather-too-clever-for-its-own-good screenplay by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge.

Trance starts off well with fine art auctioneer McAvoy joining Vincent Cassel and his gang to pull off the perfect robbery of a Goya worth millions from a London auction house. Unfortunately, while the heist goes off just fine, McAvoy is hit on the head and, after some uncomfortably unpleasant torture scenes, his fellow thieves are forced to admit he really is suffering from amnesia and has completely forgotten where he has stashed the loot.

Enter hypnotherapist Rosario Dawson who boldly goes where no one has gone before and uses her skills to invade McAvoy’s unconscious mind in the hope of digging out where the Goya can be found. Unfortunately – as Trance’s narrative tends to start to vanish up its own psychological pretentiousness and become rather less coherent and lose its dramatic impact…

Hopefully I’ve avoided any plot spoilers, having been encouraged by the distributors not to create any. I’ll leave that to Boyle and his screenwriters. Performances range from fine – McAvoy and Cassel in particular – to good for the purpose. I’ll say this for all concerned – I was never bored, I was frequently gripped and never knew exactly where Boyle and Co. were taking me and, happily, never fell into a tedious trance.

As contemporary noirs go, Trance hits rather more targets than it misses.

Alan Frank

UK 2013. UK Distributor: Pathe. Colour.
101 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 29 Mar 2013