★★★★ "We have precautions. They have plans."
I love Danny Boyle's films. His commitment to being uncommitted to a specific genre is refreshing and his visual style seems to work just about anywhere. Here it fits perfectly within the confines of a heist movie.
The heist itself isn't the main focus of the film though, it actually happens in the first 15 minutes. We watch as the famous painting, Witches in the Air (Francisco Goya) is stolen from Delancy's art auction. The fact that Simon (James McAvoy) can't remember where he stashed the $27 million painting after the theft is the film's main concern.
Simon was the inside man on the heist, but he get knocked on the head during the robbery. Even though one character tells us, "Amnesia is bollocks," it appears Simon can't come up with the memory, at least without some help.
There's a lot of emphasis put on information in the film. We're constantly wondering who knows what and when they knew it. Will hypnosis help Simon remember the painting's location? What if the hypnotist, Elizabeth, is played by the lovely Rosario Dawson?
I've loved Dawson ever since seeing her in Clerks II. Boyle's camera loves her as well, and we are introduced to her character through a well crafted montage of her with her patients.
Simon is really likable too, but that may only be because we don't fully know about his past. He's obviously running with a bad crowd, and is, at least, an art thief if not worse. Just how dark is his past? That's one thing that's slowly uncovered as the film goes on.
Simon is very susceptible to hypnosis, "He floats in and out of trance very easily," says Elizabeth. We're told five percent of the population is highly suggestible in this way. Elizabeth says, "To be yourself, you have to constantly remember yourself."
There's an MRI sequence that initiates multiple realities and things begin to get quite complicated. We get lost wondering what is real, what's not, who's playing who, and who knows what. It's the perfect subject matter for Boyle's hyper-kinetic editing, wild shots and canted angles. The cinematography is spectacular here, and easily the best of the year. Trance is a truly gorgeous film.
Footnote: I take a lot of notes during movies and then use them as reference to write my reviews. In this case, I didn't get a chance to write the review until two weeks after I saw the film, and in some places, my notes don't make any sense. So I'll leave you with some of the more bizarre notations that were apparently important at the time. Perhaps you can make sense of them. Analog London. Simon and his bandaged fingers. Giant metal cockroach.