As titles go, has Danny Boyle ever nailed it like this one? The director of Trainspotting and 127 Hours has always delivered a stylish sense of rush (drug-induced or otherwise) and with this slight step backward, toward the grit of 1994’s Shallow Grave, there’s reason to be stoked. We’re certainly in Boyle’s comfort zone as his ironic narrator, art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy), details a heist gone wrong, techno music pounding as he takes a brutal blow to the head from Franck (Vincent Cassel), his criminal collaborator. Unfortunately for the latter, Simon has pulled a double cross and Franck, in the unusually warm manner Boyle imparts to thugs, decides to allow the now-amnesiac Simon to recover the missing Goya via hypnotherapy.
Here’s where Rosario Dawson’s Elizabeth, a soft-spoken psychiatrist and habit breaker, comes in—and even if you’re sharp enough to predict she’s more than what she says she is, there’s way too much smooth surface to skid off of. Trance suffers from too many cutesy twists and stylish gotchas to take hold as a pulse-pounding thriller; even Dawson’s intimate grooming (she’s unusually committed to the role) becomes a plot point, one that feels showy the more you think about it. The film plays like something Boyle could kick out in his sleep, all his supercool devices listlessly deployed in service of a mediocre wet dream.
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