Hypnosis relies on susceptibility, in that most people cannot be hypnotised. Those who can will usually only do things they would normally do anyway. More often than not, the idea of hypnotic control or suggestion is a con, and so the very basis of Trance—which relies on hypnosis extensively—falls short. That doesn’t so much destroy the suspension of disbelief required to watch it, but it does spoil it a little.
The film follows an art auctioneer played by James McAvoy, who assists a criminal—Vincent Cassel—in stealing a particular painting. Unfortunately, McAvoy receives an injury that causes him to forget where he hid the painting, and so Cassel takes him to a hypnosis therapist played by Rosario Dawson to help him recover the memory. As she delves deeper into his subconscious, we discover things are not quite as they seem.
Trance is a film of twists, turns, and double-crosses, and there are periods where it is unclear who is betraying whom. The three central actors play their parts well, though McAvoy and Cassel are slightly typecast. It is Dawson who shines as the cool and discerning therapist, and really this is her film. The direction by Danny Boyle is slick, with unusual angles and lots of reflections, however it is the endless twisting and turning that spoils the film. A slightly simpler plot would have been of benefit here, following the well-worn and wise advice that often less is more.
This is not a bad film, but it is no masterpiece either. The highlight is the score, composed by Rick Smith of Underworld, which pushes the film with more momentum than what is often happening on screen. If it comes on television take a look, but don’t seek it out expecting something incredible. Trance is less than entrancing, but at least it is watchable.