By David Watson

So, you’ve just pulled off The Greatest Show On Earth with the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony…what do you do for an encore?  Well, on the basis of his vacuous new ‘thriller’ Trance, if you’re knighthood refusenik Danny Boyle, it appears you may just have gone home and masturbated furiously in front of Inception and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

Fine art auctioneer and degenerate gambler Simon (James McAvoy) owes a lot of money to some very dodgy geezers.  Deep in the hole, he teams up with the ruthless criminal gang led by goatish Gallic gangster Franck (Vincent Cassel) to rob his own auction house of a Goya painting worth millions of dollars.  But the heist doesn’t quite go according to plan and, one bump on the noggin later, Simon wakes up with amnesia and no clue where he hid the painting.exclusive-poster-for-danny-boyles-trance-126518-00-470-75

When threats and physical coercion don’t aid Simon’s powers of recall, Franck sends him to possibly the world’s least professional hypnotherapist Dr Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) in an attempt to jog his memory.  However, as Elizabeth explores the darkest recesses of Simon’s fractured subconscious in an attempt to discover the truth, the lines between obsession, love, desire and reality blur, cross following double-cross, as everyone betrays everyone else to a pounding middle-aged techno beat and Simon wonders if he can even trust himself…

A flashy, empty remake of screenwriter Joe Ahearne’s 2001 TV movie, Trance is a thriller about amnesia that induces just that; 20 minutes after you finish watching it you’ll be hard pressed to remember a damn thing about it.  In the days that follow you may experience mild flashbacks.  Stay away from petting zoos as the sight of a billy goat may cause Vincent Cassel’s face to swim unbidden to the surface of your subconscious.  The buzz of an electric razor may force a Pavlovian exclamation of “Pubes!”  This is nothing to worry about.  Give it a week.  You will forget.

With its gang of criminals trying to break into their victim’s mind, Trance desperately wants to be Danny Boyle’s Inception but has none of that film’s intelligence, precision or style.  With its themes of obsession and the elusive, unreliability of memory, Trance would also quite like to be Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind but lacks that film’s quirkily goofy melancholy.  Instead, what it resembles most, is Wolfgang Petersen’s hysterically overwrought, 1991 psychosexual thriller Shattered in which befuddled amnesiac Tom Berenger wanders through the film looking constipated and trying to remember who the hell he is and what the hell he’s done while Greta Scacchi breathily rubs herself against the furniture like an unspayed cat.

While the heist itself, with its Trainspotting-lite narration by McAvoy, is thrilling and intricate, and McAvoy is charismatic and likeable as Simon, Cassel (standing in for Michael ‘Tripod’ Fassbender who had the brains or good fortune to jump ship before filming) is laughably miscast as Franck, lacking the suavity, the icy intelligence and the sex appeal the role needs while the best you can say of Rosario Dawson’s performance is she’s exactly the sort of unconventional, rule-bending hypnotherapist you’d expect would include shaving her hoo-hoo as part of her client’s therapy.  The film also has a worryingly cavalier attitude towards its minor characters with one suddenly turning a bit rapey FOR ABSOLUTELY NO LOGICAL REASON and poor Tuppence Middleton again finding herself ill-used.  The increasingly frantic plot lacks plausibility and as none of the main characters are particularly likeable, the film is devoid of tension, the well-telegraphed series of unsurprising twists that cap the film rendering Trance a loud, migraine-inducing slice of smug tedium.

Callous, amoral and tired, Trance is entirely forgettable.

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  • I didn’t love this, nor did I hate it. It was a fun movie that showed Boyle enjoying himself for once, but maybe getting a little too carried away and forgetting what made this flick click in the first place: it’s characters. Good review.