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Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
Trance is a remake of a little-seen British TV movie from 2001 written and directed by Joe Ahearne. Danny Boyle’s remake makes me want to see the original, because while the new film starts out great, and seems to have the makings of a first-rate thriller, it doesn’t end up that way.

James McAvoy works at a high-end London auction house, and gets involved with a sinister art thief played by Vincent Cassel and a sexy hypnotherapist, played by Rosario Dawson. A daring theft sets the serpentine story in motion, but Trance doesn’t know when to quit. After a great opening sequence that hooks you right away, it asks you to buy into a chain of increasingly improbable events. Then, at the climax, it reveals layers of information it has deliberately withheld, causing you to rethink your impression of everything that’s come before. I felt as if I’d been jerked around, and I didn’t like it.

James McAvoy-Trance-325
Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

It’s one thing to string your viewers along and then pull a surprise, even multiple surprises, but not when you’ve broken faith with them along the way. We know something isn’t kosher; we just don’t know what it is, exactly, and neither do some of the characters in the story.

Instead of admiring the ingenuity of the writers at the end, I felt cheated, misled, snookered. Too bad. This had the makings of a really good thriller. Writer John Hodge and Danny Boyle made their reputations together more than twenty years ago with the movies Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. This one isn’t in their league.