Danny Boyle’s career, due in part to its obvious longevity, has been one of admirable poise as each project carries with it a sense of stylistically-infused likability. Genre-hopping more often than not, it’s these instances of professional diversity that have established Boyle as a household name, due largely in part to his growing if now slightly wavering reputation with cinephiles and casual viewers alike. In Trance, the lush characteristic imagery is there, however convolution trounces style as the script’s purposeful thinness remains its downfall amid a whirlwind mind fuck of a final act.
For the uninformed, Simon (James McAvoy) is more or less a glorified art auction security guard – an individual responsible for prohibiting theft in the case of an actual emergency. After suffering a blow to the head that renders him amnesic following a heist he was (supposedly) a part of, the thieves themselves partner with a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to help them extract a painting’s whereabouts. What ensues is a hodgepodge of multiple genre elements, double-crossing, occasional violence and a questionable love triangle that adds more fuel to the fire than you’d initially expect it to.
To elaborate, Trance is mostly a muddled if fairly engaging mess, employing a similar gimmick of invading Simon’s psyche to extract bits of pertinent information here and there to varying avail. It falls into a predictable rhythm of reality-hopping into and back out of the poor man’s head, that is until the rug (pun intended?) is violently pulled out from under us following a peculiar, sexually explict MacGuffin’s reveal. Cue both full-frontal female nudity and the aforementioned latter act’s beginning, a.k.a. a WILD fucking amalgamation of fastly accumulating detail, an aptly frenetic aesthetic and twist after twist that all amount to being vastly more overwhelming than one can imagine.
In the end, you’ll most likely have a hard time distinguishing between reality and fiction; emotionally gratifying or plain silly, however Trance remains Boyle’s film through and through. Viscerally competent as can be, I for one bought into most of what the film has to offer, up to and including its A Perfect Getaway-esque infinite flashback scheme that provides (few) answers as it sort of insultingly negates the first two-thirds of it all. Cassel, Dawson and McAvoy all expectedly deliver on the talent front, although my particular feelings on Trance as a whole walk the line between “WOW!… wait, what?!” and “just so-so.” Crude, perhaps, but Boyle’s latest is agreeably slick and substantially accessible, even as semi-startling revelations are had regarding the narrative’s zany, sometimes imperceptible trajectory.