Danny Boyle’s trippy, Inception-like thriller is a hypnotic head trip that demands you trust no one. I’m down with that. Boyle, an Oscar winner for Slumdog Millionaire and the twisted mister behind Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later, 127 Hours and the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, is out to dazzle us with Trance. And, boy, does he ever! You’re in for a mind-bending spin.
The script, by Joe Ahearne and John Hodge, is a setup, a series of them. James McAvoy excels as Simon, a London auctioneer who teams up with art thief Franck (a stellar Vincent Cassel) to pilfer a 1798 Goya masterpiece, “Witches in the Air.” But a hit on the head renders Simon unable to remember where he hid the painting. Enter hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to help him remember. Here’s the thing about the brain: It’s a hard drive you don’t want to overload.
The actors, shot for the ultimate in allure by Boyle regular Anthony Dod Mantle, keep you mesmerized. But this is Dawson’s show, and not just because of a spectacular, Goya-inspired nude scene. From her debut in Kids through Sin City and Unstoppable, Dawson has never had a problem holding the screen. But this is her juiciest part and her best performance yet. Dawson digs deep and nails every nuance, making the dizzying suspense resonate with raw emotion. She is, in a word, electrifying. Even when the wheels come off the too-busy plot, so is the movie.