Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Danny Boyle In A Trance

Published Thursday, 28 March 2013
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He is Britain's most dynamic filmmaker, who mesmerised the world with his spellbinding opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics.

Who else could recruit James Bond and her Majesty the Queen to spectacularly sky fall into the Olympic stadium?

Now, Oscar winning director Danny Boyle returns to the big screen with a mind bending erotic thriller, Trance. But will this be a movie to remember or a film to forget?

James McAvoy stars as a fine art auctioneer who helps a gang of thieves led by the fearsome Franck (Vincent Cassel) to steal a masterpiece. Their audacious plan to steal a priceless Goya works perfectly until Simon double-crosses the gang during the robbery. Franck retaliates violently and knocks him unconscious.

In the aftermath of the heist, Simon's head trauma has left him with no memory of where he stashed the priceless artwork. So after ransacking the auction room, Franck hires a charismatic hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to break in to Simon's head and find the picture.

"The memory is not damaged" she tells Simon "It is locked in a cage and with enough force it can be released" But as they journey deeper into Simon's jumbled psyche the boundaries between reality and fantasy begin to blur and a deadly game begins.

For the last twenty years, every Danny Boyle film has been an event, from Trainspotting to Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later to 127 hours. Never afraid to take risks, with his new film Boyle boldly strides into the head spinning emotional space of Hitchcock's Vertigo and Nolan's Inception.

With this ambition, it's not surprising there is much to admire in Trance, a visually stunning and stylishly updated Film Noir. London has never looked more seductive, framed through slanted reflections and neon illusions, rendered in burnt orange and ice blue.

But somewhere in all the smartness, the plot gets lost in the stupor. Trance begins as an intriguing crime caper, then becomes a violent gangster flick, and then a dark sexual thriller.

Unfortunately the trio of lead stars simply don't gel together and are, fatally for any film, unlikeable. Miscast as gambling master criminal Simon, is the 'Bay City Roller' boy next door James McAvoy. There are some fresh faced actors who simply look ridiculous with a gun in their hand and McAvoy is top of the list. Imagine an underworld One Direction.

Even the great Vincent Cassel, who normally swaggers onto the screen, struggles with a strangely stilted performance. Only the captivating Rosario Dawson excels as the wickedly suggestive hypnotist, "I must remember never to forget you are a criminal" she tells Franck.

Though she would do best to forget a later bizarre nude scene which evoked a howl or two of laughter in the cinema.

For fans of Danny Boyle, Trance is a dreamy disappointment but you can't help thinking that during the making of this film his mind was transfixed somewhere else in East London.

Trance (Cert 15) is now on general release

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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