American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Trance", Danny Boyle's new thriller, is slick, silly, and frequently very entertaining. Its vibe is twisty and pulpy. Its style is candy-colored visual escapism — every shot hyped up for maximum pop. Viewers who get hung up on story logic — or prefer movies that feature at least one sympathetic character — will spend much of "Trance"'s 101 minutes gritting their teeth.
The movie opens with a London auction house being robbed at gunpoint. Assistant auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) is tasked with taking the auction's most valuable item — Francisco Goya's 1798 masterpiece "Witches in the Air" — to safety. On his way to the auction house's basement vault, Simon is intercepted by head robber Franck (Vincent Cassel). Franck knocks Simon unconscious and grabs the painting — or, rather, what he believes to be the painting. Once inside the getaway car, he discovers that the canvas has been cut from its frame.
In a movie that runs largely on outlandish plot twists, it hardly qualifies as a spoiler to reveal that Simon was in on the robbery. The problem, though, is that the knock on the head delivered by Franck has made him lose his memory; he can't remember where he hid the painting, or even why he hid it. After torture proves ineffective, Franck decides to try a more unorthodox method: hypnosis. He hands Simon an iPad ("Trance" is sick with Apple product placement) and lets him pick out a hypnotherapist. He chooses American expatriate Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) because, he says, he likes her name.
It doesn't take long for Elizabeth to figure out that Simon isn't really looking for his lost car keys. She confronts the gang and makes Franck give her an equal share in exchange for retrieving "Witches in the Air." Simon, she says, can't remember what happened to it because of repressed anxieties. Finding the painting means first figuring out what makes Simon tick.