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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.

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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