Some critics are carping about Danny Boyle’s new film Trance, calling it thin and inconsequential, a lazy exercise in style over substance. They’re missing the point. The froth is deliberate, a knowing nod to the story’s inherent pulpiness and just one of many tricks Boyle uses to keep you off-balance. Light it may feel, but make no mistake – this is a story of darkness and shadow, told in gaudy neon, with the camera constantly dutched to left or right in honour of the mind-tilting narrative.
Not too mind-tilting though. Maybe I went in prepared to have my brain twisted, but I found the script just labyrinthine enough. For every occasion an unexpected shift in viewpoint knocked me sideways, there was a redeeming moment where I got to say, ‘Ah, I see.’ By the end I was simultaneously wrung out and deeply satisfied (also keen to watch it through again, just to make sure my smugness at having worked things out really was justified).
As for the plot of Trance, all you need to know is that the story concerns a criminal gang that’s lost a stolen painting and hires a hypnotherapist to plumb the mind of an amnesiac to find out what happened to it. If that sounds far-fetched, it is. But Boyle’s vigorous direction – not to mention the dream-team performances of James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel – both acknowledge and transcend any early foolishness.
You can trust Danny Boyle, he’s a doctor. A doctor of that peculiar brand of hypnotherapy called cinema. Buy into his course of treatment and he’ll put you in a trance. Exactly what the poster promises. How many movies can you say that about?