“Trance” is one of those mind-bending movies with so many twists and turns and scenes that can be interpreted in different ways. It can be a lot of fun for those who enjoy postmortem discussions as to what really happened, but frustrating to those who prefer nice, tidy endings.
Trying to analyze this movie without tripping up on too many spoilers is a challenge, but here goes.
The plot centers around a well-planned and brazen robbery of a valuable painting in London during an auction, and although it appears to come off hitch-free, the painting disappears.
There are three main characters in this caper-gone-awry. Simon (James McAvoy) is an employee of the auction firm and a gambling addict who has racked up so much debt he is willing to be the inside man on the art robbery. Franck (Vincent Cassel) is the leader of the robbery gang, not too happy his seemingly flawless plan ends up with him holding an empty frame missing the painting.
Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) is a hypnotherapist brought in to help Simon overcome amnesia from a knock in the head so he can reveal the whereabouts of the painting.
The script, written by Joe Aherne and John Hodge, starts tripping up the viewers with vague revelations and associations and possible hidden motives that require an attention to every detail. Simon seems like a man in over his head, truly baffled at what happened. But is he? Franck seems ruthless and impatient yet appears to become more of an endorser of Elizabeth’s slow, methodical methods of unlocking Simon’s shutdown memories.
Elizabeth is the most baffling of all. Was she drawn into this by chance, or was she in on it from the beginning? Her allegiances seem firm yet hints keep popping up that she has her own agenda.
“Trance” is directed by Danny Boyle, who has given viewers some excellent work in “Trainspotting,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours” and “28 Days Later.” As he so adeptly proved in “Slumdog Millionaire,” he can present a character who, as the layers are pulled away, is more and knows more than originally believed.
With so many plot angles and character revelations, “Trance” leaves itself open to intense scrutiny, ripe to be picked apart. That might have been the objective of Boyle and company, guaranteeing the movie, while not a mass-market release, may endure as it triggers debate in the social media world — with some participants embracing the “it’s all just a dream” motif — and invites repeated viewings.