Psycho-flop: has Danny Boyle lost his golden touch?
'Smoking hot' Rosario Dawson can't stop art heist becoming tangled in its own twists and turns
AFTER winning an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire and the nation's gratitude for his eye-popping London Olympics opening ceremony, it seemed that Danny Boyle could do no wrong. But his latest film, the art heist Trance, has left many critics baffled.
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw described the film as "strident, chaotic and frantically overcooked." Warming to his subject, he added that Trance is overwhelmed by its "deafeningly intrusive" soundtrack, some "embarrassing, eyeball-swivelling acting" by its male leads and "crude and misjudged violence".
The film centres on two men: Franck (Vincent Cassel), a "serious tough guy" and Simon (James McAvoy), a young art expert who agrees to help Franck steal a painting by Goya. The theft goes ahead, but Simon is knocked unconscious and can't remember where he's hidden the precious canvas. Enter Dr Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson), a sultry hypnotherapist who believes she can recover the missing painting's whereabouts from Simon's mind.
Most critics recognise the film's obvious stylistic debt to Alfred Hitchcock and English director Nick Roeg, but say it fails to match those directors' best work. Variety's Peter Debruge calls Trance a "brash, beyond-belief psycho-thriller" and says the convoluted script "jumps and dodges so often, it soon loses the thread of its own story".
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy was just as confused. Boyle's film makes "so many left turns that the film turns in on itself rather than going anywhere", he writes. "In the end this head trip about thieves, treachery and memory recovery seems more ornamental than substantial, a sleight-of-hand piece that leaves you with that empty feeling."
McCarthy is full of praise for Dawson who has "never been as dazzling or dominant on screen as she is in this central performance". But he thinks McAvoy is miscast as the meek art consultant.
Not so, says Kate Muir in The Times. She rates McAvoy's performance as a "step up from his previous Atonement and The Last King of Scotland". Dawson and Cassel are "smoking hot", says Muir, and Boyle's "psychedelic ride into the blackest pits of the subconscious" is worth a second viewing.
But Muir seems to be in the minority. One viewing was quite enough for Variety's Debruge, who was put off by the plot's "enormous gaps in logic" and struggled to "buy into this increasingly far-fetched story".
Let's hope Boyle gets his touch back before he makes Trainspotting 2.
Trance is released in the UK on 27 March. ·