“Trance” begins with an adeptly-planned heist at an auction house which goes violently awry when the auctioneer inside man takes a blow to the head leaving him with no memory of where the stashed the stolen Goya painting. The story quickly turns into a high stakes triangle – the painting’s amnesiac thief (James McAvoy), his fearsome partner in crime, gang-leader (Vincent Cassel), and the alluring hypnotist (Rosario Dawson) hired to help recover his lost memories – as they all become trapped together in a brain-bending puzzle of their own making. The more they search for the missing Goya, the more it becomes clear that what is hidden is not just a priceless work of art, but fractured fragments of secrets, temptations, and treacheries that all add up to the truth.
Taking the role of Simon is James McAvoy, who came to international acclaim from his previous roles in “X-Men: First Class,” “The Last King of Scotland,” “Wanted,” and in “Atonement.”
McAvoy felt a magnetic attraction to the role. “I was completely blown away by this mind bending, genre bending, psychological heist movie,” he says. “When I auditioned for Danny, he was incredible. I’ve rarely been directed in an audition so interestingly. That made me desperate to get the part. Luckily for me he phoned up and said, ‘Would you like to do it?’ Every day on set has been like that – just discovering this script, which is brave, bold and challenging for a performer.”
Boyle was surprised by McAvoy. “I thought he might be a bit young for it, but when we met, it was really interesting because the part makes him seem older,” the director observes. “It was fantastic the way he grew into it. I also wanted him to do it with his natural Scottish accent because I have a real love of the Scottish voice. He tells me that he doesn’t get asked to do it that often. So that was lovely for both James and Vincent to use their natural voices. I find myself entirely addicted to James, who does a wonderful job. It’s a very complicated part because we’re never sure where his conscience lies.”
Simon’s confusion about his own identity, actions and conscience accelerates throughout the film, building to a fever pitch, exhilarating McAvoy as he took on the role. “Normally, we remember what we’ve done – the brain does that as a full-time job — and that’s how we identify and see ourselves. But Simon can’t remember who he is properly. He’s had a bang on the head and something is missing. Things don’t make sense. All he knows is that there’s something huge not right in his life.”
All of this internal chaos demanded a highly creative reaction from McAvoy. “It’s a film where you really get to explore the boundaries of what’s strange and odd,” he summarizes. “All of the situations Simon finds himself in are slightly off and unexpected, altered in some way. And as he gets closer to his lost memories, it has huge repercussions for everyone involved.”
“Trance” opens this May 1 in theaters nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.