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by Leonard Maltin
April 5, 2013 12:25 AM
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Vincent Cassel-Danny Sapani-325
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.

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  • Jeffrey | May 22, 2013 12:33 AMReply

    To retract some of what I said, this film is not a bitter disappointment. The closing stages of the film might leave you perplexed and frustrated, but this film is not terrible. Perhaps a little tinkering here and there would have done the job. My reaction remains mixed, but not rueful about seeing it.

  • Jeffrey | May 21, 2013 11:37 PMReply

    I'm afraid he's right. The film is not that good. In the beginning, I was thinking "This is so cool!". But by the end, I was thinking "This is such bull****!". This film has a watershed of developments toward the end, and yet it still might leave you unsatisfied. Oh well.

  • Jeffrey | May 21, 2013 5:23 PMReply

    "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting" both got released a little less than 20 years ago. Don't make me feel older than I am.

  • joe | April 5, 2013 12:31 PMReply

    "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." ... also known as a "twist". Pretty common thing in thrillers.

  • mike schlesinger | April 7, 2013 1:40 AM

    Sorry, but Leonard's right. "Twists" usually involve a revelation of clues that were carefully planted throughout the picture that we may or may not have picked up on. (See any Agatha Christie whodunit, for example, or even THE SIXTH SENSE.) But bringing in data that the audience did not and could not have known is indeed a bit of a cheat.

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