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Movie review: 'Trance'

Posted 4:57pm on Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013

R (sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, grisly images, strong language); 101 min.


The heist picture gets a few Danny Boyle head-game twists with Trance, a movie about memory, the mind and manipulating both to find some "lost" stolen art.

James McAvoy is Simon, trusted employee of a London auction house. On the day they put Goya's Witches in the Air under the gavel, thieves attack. But Simon is on the case -- following company protocol to safeguard the priceless painting.

Only he didn't. And when he took a conk to the head as the robbery went down, he lost his memory of where he stashed it.

That has the gang, led by Franck (Vincent Cassel), in a tizzy. They're tearing up his apartment, tracking him down. And when enhanced interrogation methods don't help, they turn to a hypnotherapist.

Trance has a pulsing energy to it during the heist and its aftermath, switching to something more serene and meditative as Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) tries to unlock Simon's secrets and figure out what those secrets really are.

Boyle, working from a script by Doctor Who vet Joe Ahearne and regular collaborator John Hodge ( Trainspotting, The Beach), teases out the mystery and stages vivid flashbacks that we have to reason out because some are clues, and some aren't. For all its plot trickery, mind science and relationship square-dancing, Trance doesn't have the emotional tug or technical pizazz of Boyle's best films -- Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting and 127 Hours. It feels more like a technical stunt, but one he pulls off with his usual panache, if not his usual heart.

-- Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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