Hypnosis gone haywire
The new work from Danny Boyle sees James McAvoy at the center of an art heist gone wrong.
Danny Boyle’s work varies from the intensely quiet (Millions) to the incredibly noisy (Trainspotting) but has always been concerned with transformation (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) in the form of personal, pivotal change.
Whether his stint as artistic director of the London Olympics has encouraged him to trade in his view of disoriented individuality for a smoke and mirrors presentation of the bigger picture remains to be seen. Simon (McAvoy) is the inside man, an art historian who enables the daring heist of Goya’s Witches in the Air from a London auction house but gets hit on the head in the process and forgets where he stashed the painting. Led by Franck (a steely-chested Cassel), his partners in crime enlist the services of hypnotist Elizabeth Lamb (Dawson) to help jog his memory.
Boyle conflates rapid-fire images of neo-noir London threaded with aerial views of arterial pathways accompanied by a thumping soundtrack from Rick Smith (who worked with Boyle on The Beach and Sunshine) to suggest that effect + affect = plot. Memory being what it is, this works, but only in places. In others, the movie turns on itself, obfuscating its enablement subtext with ‘trop de notes’.
Trance | Directed by Danny Boyle (UK 2012) with James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson. Starts Aug 8
Originally published in Issue #118, July/August 2013