Trance review

From Oscar-bothering Bollywood flicks to the Olympic Games, Britain’s most versatile filmmaker loves turning his hand to something new.

Here it’s a trippy heist thriller – think Derren Brown meets David Dickinson – and Danny Boyle directs as if his life depended on it.

Certainly the film does: one pause for reflection and the plot logic would crumble like popping candy.

Boasting the best opening sequence since Headhunters , Trance starts at a typical Boyle sprint, introducing top London auctioneer James McAvoy, a priceless Goya painting and gangster Vincent Cassell, who’s stealing it.

It’s 10 dazzling minutes of pulsing techno and escalating tension, culminating in a burst of violence that leaves McAvoy with amnesia.

Cue credits.

To piece together what happened, Cassell and his crew take McAvoy to see Harley Street hypnotherapist Rosario Dawson, who offers to trawl through his memory for a cut of the loot…

Trance is not without its problems.

The plot turns on a hair, Cassell’s heavies crowd the central trio like extras in a Guy Ritchie flick, and the story makes next to no sense.

But the film recognises its own flaws; the cast (particularly McAvoy, who seems to be heading every genre-savvy Brit-flick this year) are clearly enjoying themselves and, if approached as a killer B-movie made by A-listers, you will too.

Cross-cutting between half-baked schemes, dreams-within-dreams and all manner of high-concept chicanery, Trance operates at such a level of mania it’s hard to take it seriously.

There’s a witty, mocking tone throughout, and the set design, all coloured glass and reflective surfaces, give proceedings a suitably dreamy, not-quite-real sheen.

Boyle, meanwhile, is in his element, embellishing the script with so many buzzy details – impossible POV shots, eccentric soundtrack choices, fourth walls readily acknowledged then ripped down – that you can’t help but thrum with adrenalin.


Sprinting to the edge of preposterousness and back, this deliriously entertaining day-glo noir of fried brains and blown fuses denotes a director at the top of his game.

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