Seeking out the

5000 greatest films

in a century of cinema


Directed by Danny Boyle
Produced by Danny Boyle and Christian Colson
Written by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge
With: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Danny Sapani, Matt Cross, Wahab Sheikh, Mark Poltimore, and Tuppence Middleton
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Editing: Jon Harris
Music: Rick Smith
Runtime: 101 min
Release Date: 27 March 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color: Color

Oscar winning hack Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) makes two kinds of movies: tedious and inane exercises in style-over-substance so focused on technique that any story or themes they contain are reduced to vacuous tripe (Shallow Grave, The Beach, Millions), and potentially interesting stories where the showy direction serves the narrative fairly well until the unstable screenplay implodes under the derivative and banal conventions of its third act (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine). With Trance he seems to have combined both approaches. It is an excessively showy but mildly entertaining pop-psychological take on an art-heist picture that becomes increasingly ridiculous as it adds on more and more levels of mystery and narrative gimmickry. This is supposed to be a mind-bender of a movie that wrestles with identity and morality, but like most twist-upon-twist-upon-reversal-upon-twist pictures, non of the themes or concepts have any meaning at all by the time we reach the last reveal. The puzzle-box picture sinks to depths of silliness far deeper than Christopher Nonlan or Bryan Singer have ever reached.

James McAvoy plays Simon, an auctioneer at a Sotheby’s-like establishment, who is involved in the theft of a famous painting but becomes stricken with amnesia before he can deliver the goods. Rosario Dawson is the hypnotherapist he enlists to help him remember where the painting is. Vincent Cassel is Franck, the leader of the gang of thugs Simon has fallen in with. McAvoy plays Simon as if he had only two presentation styles in his acting bag--steely cool and frantically out-of-control. It is one of the least nuanced performances I’ve seen in a thriller.  Rosario Dawson embarrasses herself through ridiculous dialogue, a cringe-worthy full frontal nude scene, and a character whose motivations are insultingly absurd. Only Cassel comes out looking OK, but his antagonist is the least interesting of the characters to start with. Danny Boyle has a lot of fans out there; perhaps they will get some pleasure from this movie. I just got tired.