**1/2 (out of four)
Smash together “Inception,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Thomas Crown Affair” with director Danny Boyle's (“Slumdog Millionaire”) typically pulsing style, and what do you get?
Overstimulated, that’s what.
In the engrossing and silly heist thriller “Trance,” art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) can’t seem to remember where he left a valuable painting. For good reason: During a robbery, Simon stashed the painting somewhere safe, but the subsequent head-bashing from lead criminal Frank (Vincent Cassel) didn't do Simon any favors in the memory department.
Fortunately, hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) jumps at the chance to counsel a client dealing with something other than difficulties with food or a fixation on golf. Frank's underling may claim, “Everyone knows amnesia's bollocks”—and it certainly was in the recent Kirsten Dunst/Jim Sturgess atrocity “Upside Down”—but Elizabeth works overtime to penetrate Simon's brain, even when he seems to fill his void with uncontrollable feelings for his hypnotist.
Until its nested structure grows tiresome, “Trance” serves as slick, shifty entertainment, anchored by three excellent lead performances as slithery as the movie. The film’s effort to be clever obscures a number of interesting emotional developments that become collateral damage of a structure that prefers twists and ultimate senselessness to consistent characterization.
This movie has steam, but needs to be ironed.
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