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Trance - C4

James McAvoy hunts for a stolen painting

Director Danny Boyle's stylish thriller stars James McAvoy. 3/5 stars

McAvoy's slick auctioneer, Vincent Cassel's French crook and Rosario Dawson's hypnotherapist are tangled up in an increasingly convoluted plot involving art theft, betrayal, amnesia and hypnosis.

The story begins simply, however, with McAvoy giving us the lowdown on the workings of London's fine art world in a sardonic voice-over.

Then we discover that he has lent his inside knowledge to crook Cassel’s gang, who have their sights on a priceless Goya painting. During the heist, McAvoy suffers a blow to the head that leaves him with amnesia - and no memory of where he has hidden the painting.

In comes Dawson to probe into his mind until its whereabouts are revealed. Sultry and smart, she promptly wants a slice of the action, too.

As if all this weren't enough, there are so many layers of visual chicanery that we are not sure whether we are watching reality or fantasy – plus there's the devious erotic triangle that develops between the stars.

The more twists and turns that pile up, the less interested we become in the eventual outcome, but Boyle ensures this is entrancing viewing all the same.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.