I was fascinated by "Trance," Danny Boyle's smart, assaultive psychological thriller (Fox Searchlight, April 5), which resembles Darren Aronofsky's darkly violent ballet drama "Black Swan," also starring Vincent Cassel, or Steven Soderbergh's nastily twisty "Side Effects," which also pivots on a sexily manipulative femme fatale. Boyle won the Directing Oscar in 2008 for Best Picture winner "Slumdog Millionaire"; his last film was 2010's Oscar-nominated "127 Hours." He subsequently focused his efforts in London on a stage version of "Frankenstein" and 2012's opening ceremony for the London Olympics.
Boyle's stylish thrill-ride breaks genre rules as it goes. At the center of the movie is an all-is-not-what-it-seems triangle between ruthless gangster Vincent Cassel, who at first tortures London fine-art auctioneer and amnesia victim James McAvoy to find out where he has stashed a stolen Goya painting, then hires a seductive hypno-therapist (Rosario Dawson) to ferret it out of him.
Cassel, 42, is a multi-lingual, second-generation French movie star (besides his native French, he speaks Italian, Russian, Portuguese, and English); his father was Jean-Pierre Cassel (whose last film was "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"). The younger actor's handsome, dangerous athleticism has served him well in diverse roles, many of them violent bad guys in action. You've seen
him in such intense French films as "La Haine," "Brotherhood of the Wolf," "Irreversible" (in which he co-starred with wife Monica Belluci) and his Cesar-winning role as the title gangster in Jean-Francois Richet's sprawling period bio-epic "Mesrine," as
well as Steven Soderbergh's "Oceans 12" and "13" and David Cronenberg's Russian gangster film "Eastern Promises" (he pops up in the sequel) and Freud vs. Jung drama "A Dangerous
Method." (My last video interview with him is here.)
Check out our Q & A and the mindblowing red band trailer below.